Building a Better Paywall


The invisible fence

Boomerang is a paid cartoon streaming service. With only a handful of free toons, visitors bump into the paywall fast. And sometimes, from the home page, cutting exploration short.

On 10-foot, mobile, and Web, this blue paywall can feel like an invisible fenceTriggered by show cards and cartoons, it’s often unpredictable. Always imposing, leading with a hardball question: Which plan do you want?

Design and learn

To resolve, I reframed paywall as a conversation (not a single screen). A thoughtful paywall:

  • is predictable
  • is triggered when want is greatest — when visitor tries to play a video
  • suspends plan choice, starting with an easy question: Want to start a trial? Yes or no?


I prototyped testable solutions. Within days, I was able to validate the new design.

First, on mobile:

Then, on 10-foot (tvOS, Roku, FireTV):


We confirmed:

  • visitors forget that they’re in preview mode, expecting everything to be playable. The micro-banner is a strong visual cue. It staves off disappointment.
  • visitors connect emotionally with episode thumbnails. So it’s the right trigger for paywall.

8 Ball Bunny, Apes of Wrath — I remember both of those shows and it brings a smile to my face (laughs).

It was evident, the episode thumbnail is the trial-starter.

I would start a 7-day trial, then watch that episode of Bugs Bunny that I wanted to watch.

What’s next?

With Apptimize, I’ll A/B test variables (micro-banner, slideup).

I’ll define adjacent strategies for preview and sign up. These are tied to paywall. Wanting a free trial is easy. Signing up for one — a steep climb.