New world. Why are some French sites which are usually free to pay since April 1?


Some websites now offer a paid version, to avoid targeted advertising.
Some websites now offer a paid version, to avoid targeted advertising. (SCREENSHOT)

If you visit websites such as Marmiton, AuFéminin, Pure People, or even Allociné, since April 1, you will be offered to pay to access the content. For example, it costs two euros for a month on Allociné, 49 cents for Marmiton or AuFéminin. Yet these sites were until now completely free, supported by advertising.

The explanation lies in “cookies”, these small markers that allow us to track our behavior on the web to send us targeted advertising. Under the general regulation on the protection of personal data (RGPD), French sites are now required to display a clearly visible button that allows Internet users to refuse these cookies (previously, this button already existed but it was generally hidden, in order to to deter visitors). It’s a safe bet that many more Internet users are likely to refuse these famous cookies, which could lead to a drop in advertising revenue.

Professionals explain that untargeted advertising earns about half as much as targeted advertising. This is the reason why some sites have implemented these paid subscriptions in an attempt to compensate for the shortfall.

The legality of the process is rather vague. The National Commission for Informatics and Freedoms (Cnil) considers that this choice does not respect the GDPR and it tried to have it banned, but it was retoked by the Council of State last June. The CNIL has promised to now examine the situations on a case-by-case basis. The fundamental question that arises is that of the economic model of websites. Internet users are widely used to free, but they often forget that content is financed by advertising. For private publishers, free does not exist and must be funded in one way or another.

Internet users who refuse to pay can still access the sites for free, provided they accept cookies. Furthermore, paying is not insurance against advertising, but only against targeted advertising. On the professional side, it is too early to know if the payment system put in place will really be able to compensate for the losses due to the rejection of advertising cookies.


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