After addressing the PPA conference this morning on how the UBM-owned title is developing in the digital space, Barrie said: "I don’t want to be in the free game anymore."
The catalyst for the introduction of the paywall was the property crash, triggered by the banking crisis that began in late 2008.
Barrie said: "Our advertising plummeted and after a long, painful period, we started to build ourselves back again [with] a completely different proposition underpinning everything we do."
The magazine was redesigned to include more analysis and more interaction with the website, which had been relaunched in 2007 with "wonderful new content", replacing the "rudimentary" website that had been in existence since 2000.
Barrie highlighted content introduced since then, such as Property Come Dine With Me and Property Chef videos, podcasts, seven interactive special editions, picture galleries, live TV and digital conferences, as well as its Property Network social network (with 5,500 members) and news broken "all day every day, through the night and even at weekends".
This content, plus shouting about it, "gave us an audience of up to 300,000 users every month but, as we entered a recession, building an audience just wasn't enough and the answer was to start charging for what we do".
Barrie added: "The FT's frequency cap model seemed the best of both worlds. Propertyweek.com has to act as a funnel, siphoning readers to the site,"
Magazine subscribers (a year's subscription is £175) get full online access for free, while non-subscribers have to register on their second click and pay on their sixth.
Barrie said this might in future be limited to three free articles. Explicitly supporting the idea that content is king, he said: "Giving away content for free is a kick in the teeth for someone who was raised in a family of journalists.
"I think print is absolutely crucial … the key to making money out of digital at the same time is to create a funnel for the audience through social media and other stunts, then to harvest the data through registration and paywalls that charge for tailored content that's aimed at real needs.
"What we believe is the answer to making good old-fashioned money in a brave new publishing world is to use the data we gain on our readers once they've been sucked in through the funnel effect."
Barrie said his company had data on 40,000 registered website users and, for example, knew that 20% were property investors and 10% were property developers: "We wouldn't have known that unless we had the registration gate."
The process included discovering companies who were "cheating" their way around the paywall by sharing accounts between staff, including a prominent law firm, and encouraging them to take corporate-level accounts.
The online content operation is judged on measures including audience reach; the P&L account, which Barrie said was looking "more healthy this year than in the property crash", and the renewal rate, which was 80% on Property Week magazine.
"The paywall has had a big impact," he said.
This article was first published on mediaweek.co.uk