Piano’s new Composer makes it easy for publishers to create a targeted paywall experience

Publisher tools and paywall company Piano is announcing a new tool that could give publishers more freedom to experiment with paywalls and other business models.

The company was created last year from the merger of Tinypass and Piano Media. While the combined organization continues to offer a paywall system for publishers, CEO Trevor Kaufman has said that the issue is no longer a black-and-white — publishers should make money from different users in different ways.

The new Composer tool seems like a direct extension of that idea, offering a drag-and-drop interface where publishers can create different rules that tailor the reader experience to different audience segments.

So based on things like a user’s device, location, value to advertisers and use of ad blockers, a publisher can present them with different kinds of subscription offers and/or restrict their access after they’ve read or watched a certain amount of content.

“[The paywall product] is still a lot of our bread and butter, but what we found in that process is that clients didn’t have a good way to deploy lots of business models and communications and segmentation in an agile way,” Kaufman told me.


He added that publishers have become more open to incorporating paywalls and subscriptions into their online business models as it’s become clear that no single ad format or device is going to be their salvation. And even if you’re not experimenting aggressively, a basic paywall implementation is more complex than you might think, especially since publishers probably aren’t putting every single page on their website behind the wall.

So with Composer, whether a publisher want to run lots of different experiments or just teak the pricing, they can do so without turning it into a big IT project. The Piano team is working to improve Composer’s audience targeting by integrating with data sources like Bluekai. It’s also usable by publishers who don’t want to get rid of their existing, non-Piano/Tinypass paywall systems.

And while Piano is only officially launching Composer today, Kaufman said it’s already outselling the company’s paywall product.