Angie’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 hasn’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 it’s an electrician, a painter or a plumber. And just like Yelp, you will also be able to submit your review at no cost.
Angie’s List has always had an edge in the home services market. However, unlike Yelp where it’s hard for businesses to cover up bad reviews, in the case of Angie’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 Angie’s List and subscribers might know, but at least it wasn’t all over the web.
All that’s changed now, and it means listed businesses also need to get their acts together.
Free Angie’s List Removes Barriers for Reviewers and Reviewed
On the other hand, the paywall has always acted as a “barrier” that has stunted the company’s growth. Arguable it has also restricted the growth of businesses that choose to rely exclusively or mostly on referrals from Angie’s List subscribers.
The company was first launched in 1995 — 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 “freemium” 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. “We get over 100 million visitors each month, but 90 percent of them have been bouncing because of the reviews paywall,” CEO Scott Durchslag told TechCrunch. “We expect to see traffic explode with the change.”
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 Angie’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.