Angieâ€™s List (NASDAQ:ANGI) has finally torn down its paywall.
The online reviews site, which has traditionally charged its visitors a $40 annual fee now has its reviews and ratings available for free. This change, which hasnâ€™t attracted a lot of attention online, does actually have a strong implication for many businesses that use the site in terms of managing online reputation.
The recent move simply means that any consumer will now be able to surf the website at no cost and more easily choose a service provider, whether itâ€™s an electrician, a painter or a plumber. And just like Yelp, you will also be able to submit your review at no cost.
Angieâ€™s List has always had an edge in the home services market. However, unlike Yelp where itâ€™s hard for businesses to cover up bad reviews, in the case of Angieâ€™s List, bad reviews could only be seen by those who pay to access the site.
So, get a bad review on Yelp and the whole world knows. But get a bad review on Angieâ€™s List and subscribers might know, but at least it wasnâ€™t all over the web.
All thatâ€™s changed now, and it means listed businesses also need to get their acts together.
Free Angieâ€™s List Removes Barriers for Reviewers and Reviewed
On the other hand, the paywall has always acted as a â€śbarrierâ€ť that has stunted the companyâ€™s growth. Arguable it has also restricted the growth of businesses that choose to rely exclusively or mostly on referrals from Angieâ€™s List subscribers.
The company was first launched in 1995 â€” almost a decade before Yelp. And the subscription model it has been using since then predates, by many years, internet services that operate on a â€śfreemiumâ€ť basis. Unsurprisingly, the company has really struggled with its finances in recent years. And in a move to right the ship, the company brought in a new CEO, Scott Durchslag, last fall. Among his major changes is the recent removal of the reviews and ratings paywall.
Obviously, the recent change will come with a decline in membership revenues, but this will most likely be offset with the spending of fewer marketing dollars. In an earlier press release the company announced expectations to grow their total revenue to $750 million by 2020.
The company also believes that the move will drastically increase its user base and so, of course, pay off in the long run. â€śWe get over 100 million visitors each month, but 90 percent of them have been bouncing because of the reviews paywall,â€ť CEO Scott Durchslag told TechCrunch. â€śWe expect to see traffic explode with the change.â€ť
Looking back, Yelp started out as a restaurant review site but it has expanded to cover many other businesses and going by this, it can be expect that Angieâ€™s List will also try and grow beyond its current home services niche. This simply means that many more businesses will soon have an opportunity to be listed on the platform.