Is this the Future Product Placement Model in Free WordPress plugins?

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Up until recently, product placement in free WordPress plugins has always been a challenging task. We have seen numerous methods utilized by developers. Some included banner ads on the plugin options page, others released “lite” versions of the plugins, some used lightbox popups in the backend to promote, but none of those methods were as appealing as the one we see emerging. It was first done by Automattic in their Jetpack plugin, and now WooThemes is following the lead with their newest creation called WooDojo. Since there is no name for this product placement model, we will take the liberty of calling it “The Teaser Model”. You are probably wondering what is this Teaser Model? Basically the teaser model allows you to list a bunch of features into one big dashboard where you can simply activate the ones you want. However, some features in the list will be commercial. So you see what the options does, but you have to pay to get it.

The most interesting aspect of “The Teaser Model” is that it is a really creative way for commercial plugins to enter the WordPress plugins repository. Note: Commercial plugins are NOT allowed in the plugin repository (and unlike commercial themes, there is no commercial plugins listing on WordPress.org).

So let’s take a look at exactly what this “Teaser Model” entails and how this can be abused.

We will use Jetpack as an example case-study. So when you first activate Jetpack (a FREE plugin), it does NOT work right off the bat. You MUST have a WordPress.com account for it to work. So when you access the Jetpack screen, you will see a list of all available features. In between a bunch of FREE options, there is VaultPress (a paid plugin promo).

Jetpack Teaser Model

It is important to note, that we have nothing against VaultPress. As a matter of fact, we use it on our sites. So basically, once you connect to WordPress.com all other features will become available except for VaultPress (Because you have to buy it).

We noticed this a while ago and thought this was creative. But recently with the launch of WooDojo, we think this idea has potential of becoming the next trend. Here is a look at how Woo is doing their product placement:

WooDojo Teaser Model

Now while they are only promoting their other FREE plugins, this idea has potential. We wouldn’t be surprised if WooCommerce (that has a good number of paid extensions) actually adapt the widget style look for their backend (up-selling the PAID extensions).

So you are wondering how this model could be abused creatively? Basically any PAID plugin can use this model to work their way into the repository, get new user-registration (emails etc), and up-sell their paid products.

Anyone can simply require users to “Connect” with their site. Connecting would mean the user MUST create an account (free account, but you can upsell the paid options on the membership page). Even if it is a FREE account, you can STILL collect their emails. The user has no choice but to connect otherwise the plugin will not work. Once they have connected to your service, you can implement one-click buy/install features. Since you have their email address (because they are your user), you can use it to up-sell your new products.

Do you think this is the future of product placement in Free WordPress plugins? Would love to hear the community’s thoughts on this. It would also be interesting to see if more developers shift their development model this way. Rather than creating numerous small plugins, should they bundle all of their products into one place? This would also influx the count of downloads because often people might download the plugin just for one feature out of the many that it may offer. But the total download count will be significantly higher.

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