The Scroll service is a clever hack that tells websites not to serve you advertisements by using third-party cookies or browser extensions. It’s not exactly an ad-blocker, but it does give a portion of your subscription fee to the websites you visit that participate. It will no longer welcome new signups now that it has been purchased by Twitter.
Scroll CEO Tony Haile says one of the reasons he sold his business is that “Twitter’s goals are bigger than people suspect”.
However, it’s unclear what Twitter plans to do with Scroll. Twitter is undoubtedly developing a subscription package that will bundle a number of services, but only Twitter knows what will be included, how much it will cost, and who will share in the revenue.
“Scroll will become a meaningful addition to our subscriptions work as we build and shape a future subscription service on Twitter,” said Mike Park, Product Manager of Twitter, in a blog post.
VP of product Mike Park teases Twitter’s plans in an announcement message, implying that Scroll will be integrated directly into a more robust subscription that will, in part, be sending slivers of money to Revue newsletter authors.
Scroll says that its users donate more money to news organisations through subscriptions than they would through ad views. Applying the model to freelance newsletter authors will provide an entirely new set of incentives for media experts to consider.
Another choice is a service that competes with Apple News in several respects. It could be a feature inside the Twitter app itself — or even a potential news reading app — rather than a web tech hack that blocks advertising at the browser level.
Twitter is attempting to capitalize on its prominent position in the online lives of many journalists and newshounds. Scroll, according to Haile, aims to transform Twitter into a “great gathering of people who love the news and pay to sustainably support it.”
Twitter has been attempting to find ways to monetise its services without interfering with the real-time flow of information that has been its defining feature. With Scroll, individual subscriptions, packs, and news reading experiences can all be mixed and matched. In order to put together a cohesive service and then justify it to potential customers, Twitter will have its job cut out for it.