Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

04/30/2011

Solving Every Publishers Paywall Problem


Paywall Producing Money

How about a super simple program that allows you to set up a flexible content monetizer (paywall) that allows readers to pay for one article for an hour or access archieves for a week or gain access to the entire site for a month or year!

That super simple program is Tiny Pass (A real Mighty Mouse!)

“For example, the Huffington Post could use Tiny Pass to make users pay $.05 to be able to read an article by Arianna Huffington for an hour or $.25 to read her entire archives for a week. Or it could charge $5 to gain access to the entire site for one month.” 

More details at the Business Insider by Noah Davis:

This Startup Just Solved Every Publication’s Paywall Problem — And It Is Using The Huffington Post As Proof

Suppose you are a web publisher who wants to institute a pay wall. You could spend millions on developing one like The New York Times.Or you could call Tiny Pass.

The latest project from Hudson Media Ventures is a micropayment platform that allows publishers to indicate the content they want to charge users for, how much they want to charge, and how long the access will last. It then delivers said content after users simply and quickly pay for the privilege.

Read and learn more

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07/18/2010

iPad and Publishing

Filed under: iPad,monetizing online content,publishing — gator1965 @ 12:56 pm


With all the mad-dash think-tanking going on about how to monetize online content occupying all the publishing executives’ every breathing moment…what are they coming up with?

Not much…But some possibilities are materializing on the horizon (not entirely from their intellectual efforts)…Even online, digital companies such as Google, who at first took business away from print, is working with apps to assist newspapers and magazines with monetizing business models…

And, of course, there is this thing called the iPad. It’s popularity might make paying for quality online content more acceptable and the money-generating apps that will allow this content to appear should put some more jingle in publishers’ pockets.

Mark Wood, former editor-in-chief of Reuters and chief executive of ITN, writes this for The Australian (Business) about the iPad’s future in publishing:

WILL Steve Jobs go down as the saviour of the newspaper industry? Quite possibly, if iPads are the big Christmas hit this year.
That would mean they are becoming essential gadgets for businesspeople, commuters, air travellers and the reading classes in general.

They might just mark a turning point in the fortunes of a British industry, particularly, grappling desperately with dramatic declines in sales, defection of advertisers and woeful returns on huge investments in glitzy websites and marketing budgets. It is an industry praying for a miracle.

Few newspaper readers appreciate the nightmare facing the companies that produce them.

Classified ads, once about a third of an average newspaper’s revenue, have steadily migrated online — a shift accelerated by the recession. Display advertising is now defecting too. And with so much content available cost-free on the web, and free-sheets given away to commuters, circulations are plummeting.

Normal readers are also defecting — either grabbing a free-sheet on their way to work, or picking up their news via Google for free. Newspapers everywhere have been affected but no country, apart from the US, has suffered as much as Britain. Since 2007, British circulations have fallen by a quarter, according to an OECD report. In the US, they have fallen by a third — with 293 newspapers and 1120 magazines folding last year alone. Advertising revenue may recover a little this year, but the trend is clear: over the past year, British broadsheets lost up to 16 per cent of their readers. Few businesses can deal with structural change on this scale. The losses are mounting.

The Times newspapers are losing pound stg. 1.6 million ($2.8m) a week between them. The Guardian and The Observer are losing pound stg. 3.2m. “No matter which way you look at it, the numbers are just unsustainable at this level,” muttered one senior editorial figure after discussing the rosy hue painted on the results by Guardian Media Group outgoing chief executive Carolyn McCall. Something fairly substantial has to change.

Even the remaining profitable newspaper groups such as The Telegraph are not immune to the flight of advertising and readers.

What does a newspaper do? Salvation may come in the form of a Russian sugar-daddy, as it has for The Independent.

Others may give themselves away free, like the London Evening Standard.

But most proprietors and executives are frantically looking for a new way to make the newspaper business model work.

Newspapers may be powerful brands with high-quality content honed to the tastes of their target audiences, but hold on to the wrong business model for the digital age. Some 80 per cent of their costs tend to go on things like paper, printing presses and distribution. But the bit the punters are actually buying — the content — is as powerful a draw in the digital markets as at the newsagents.

The iPad and the host of digital tablets following may well become game changers, because the iPad makes browsing your book or newspaper feel almost like the real thing. And because it is a new mobile platform (a bit like a big smartphone), publishers believe there will be little resistance to paying a subscription, as long as it is not exorbitant — maybe a tenner a month.

For their money, the punters will get a product miles ahead of the newspaper website. Publishers can deliver a complete, packaged paper, like a giant PDF, which means they can shape the layout, embed video and audio clips, and use clever navigation tools that learn about user preferences and give you your newspaper in the order you like to read it.

Once the principle of paying is established — as it is already for music through the runaway successes of iTunes — the next step will be to see if it can be applied to newspapers. Rupert Murdoch is, not for the first time, blazing a trail for his industry here by erecting a pound stg. 2-a-week paywall around the websites of The Times and The Sunday Times. The argument advanced by James Murdoch is that the company is “placing a proper value on creative endeavour” in the belief that its output is worth paying for. Journalists accustomed to loathing Rupert Murdoch now grudgingly wish him luck. If he pioneers a business model, others may follow.

Another potential lifeline is being offered by Google, which is the world’s biggest media business.

This sounds ironic, as the company has long been described as the Darth Vader of the news world with its Google News search engine directing users to whatever they want to read, for free. It pledged resources to help fix the “monetisation problem” — that is, how to persuade people to pay for the news found through its search engine. Google is cagey about details, but appears to be working on some solutions. One, apparently called Newspass, will be a system that allows users to make tiny payments to read articles and charge from a Google account. Google would, presumably, take a cut in the transaction.

As for the iPad itself, it is perhaps the biggest step yet on a road towards highly capable, light, portable reading devices that will make paper and smudgy ink look medieval. If it takes off, it could be the portal that allows users of both Google and Murdoch to pay for their product. Each publication could sell an app. What has made newspapers and magazines huge successes over the decades — their range and their personalities — ought to triumph on the new platforms if properly projected.

The clock is certainly ticking. Microsoft gives newspapers 10 more years at most as printed artefacts. One Financial Times executive has suggested it will be out of the pink newspaper business in five. Other publishers give it longer, but the time frame is years rather than decades.

To stay ahead of the game, newspapers and magazines — even the one you hold now — will have no choice but to migrate to an online format that people will want to keep paying for.

In launching the iPad, Jobs probably never gave a moment’s thought to the survival of age-old British newspapers.

But if his iPad takes off, and leaves its owners willing to pay a little for something of quality to read on it, then this device — and its successors — may well save Fleet Street.

04/11/2010

The Technology Behind Paywalls


I’ve always been curious about the choices you might have when constructing or designing a paywall for online content…Well, Bill Mickey , an astute writer for FOLIO magazine, has presented a clear picture of what some well known mags are experimenting with to monetize their proprietary online digital content:

Online paywalls are still being scrutinized as a possible revenue stream to supplement declining revenues in print and online display advertising. Yet, there are still relatively few publishers that have found success in the strategy. What’s conspiring against more rapid implementation, especially these days, are significant capital investments in technology, a strategic about-face, a possible decline of total audience, and the daunting prospect of determining if your content can be fashioned into a service or experience, thereby unlocking its value.

There are different models of online paid content—metered, pay-per-article, subscription, and so on. At The Deal, LLC, a b-to-b media company serving the financial and investment sector, an enterprise subscription model was selected.

Even in the b-to-b world, where content is valued for its depth of data and service orientation, adjusting to a paid model can be painful. The Deal, which had a paid model that CIO Michael Lonier called a “mixed bag” of individual subscription packages, re-engineered its platform into one that provides access on an enterprise license level. The decision was based on a conclusion that a fully-licensed model offered a steadier income stream that smoothed out the “cyclical and longer-term secular changes in sponsored advertising,” says Lonier.

“We’re about a year and a half into a significant transformation of our product, and prior to that we had a more conventional b-to-b kind of product mix with a qualified magazine and free stuff and some paid stuff and some premium products. It was a mixed bag of products, which we supported with a subscription strategy and sold primarily via telemarketing,” says Lonier.

The Deal moved away from that strategy to one where all the content was streamlined onto a common platform and format where it could be sold as an enterprise-level service called The Deal Pipeline, complete with its own dedicated sales team. “We sell with a relationship model like you would sell almost any other high-end service,” says Lonier. “There’s a sales team that works with different accounts.”

The jump, as all publishers know, was both risky and painful. In The Deal’s case, the publisher went all in. Not only is the content at a much higher price point, but the company is targeting a smaller customer universe. “The first year is tough for this sort of thing,” says Lonier. “It will be for anyone. You have the baggage of the way you used to do things. Especially, in our case, since we are shooting for a higher price point.”

Lonier is careful to make an important distinction that the value proposition for The Pipeline is what the content does for the customer, not the content itself. “We don’t sell content, we’re selling an enterprise information service. Content is part of it. The other part is access and deliverability. All of that is designed to add value.”

Subscription Paywalls

Harvard Business Review has a paywall that’s primarily accessed via a subscription model. Print subscribers don’t have automatic access. Readers can subscribe to print ($79/year) or digital ($99/year), or both ($129). Non-subscribers also have the option of buying a single-copy PDF of a story for $6.50.

It’s a fairly aggressive paywall in both pricing and access—non-subscribers can read the first full page of a story before bumping into the subscribe message. According to Kevin Newman, director of Web technology at HBR, the magazine is exploring ways to be a bit more flexible. The goal is to tease just enough to achieve conversion. “Our strategy is changing to allow users, instead of having that firm wall, to have an opportunity to get a deeper sample and then restrict after that,” says Newman. “Hopefully, we’re accommodating users and finding that pivot point where users become subscribers.”

In-House Solution for Flexibility

The infrastructure Newman’s team has built was engineered completely in-house. This approach allows Newman the flexibility to make changes on the fly, especially since specific paywall strategies are difficult to commit to as user preferences and behaviors change.

“We went in this direction because we want to do this piecemeal,” he says. “We want to introduce it to the users without disrupting their experience and find the right mix for people who aren’t customers. We haven’t found any other products out there that can deliver that kind of functionality.”

Accordingly, the HBR paywall system exists in between enterprise systems (user data and transactional operations, for example) and the content systems (CMS). This allows Newman to experiment with new approaches without having to re-engineer integration with the other systems. “In between there we’ve got the applications my team runs,” he says. “The point at which we’ll be experimenting with the paywall is exactly there. At what point do we want the content to be displayed, or put up an offer? It’s all very much in the application and not tied to the enterprise systems. It’s back to the more flexible approach. If users rebel and reject our approach we want to dissemble it and get back to where we were, without all the overhead.”

Similarly, The Deal built its system in-house as well, all the way down to the way the publisher controls subscriber access. “We built a whole new platform,” says Lonier. “We moved away from an old Sun Server world and built a virtualized network. We employ services in the cloud. Every page is a set of queries—when people access our content people are actually manipulating queries.”

Would you continue to use your favorite site if there was a paywall?

Bad [for] News
In its recent State of the News Media report, the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism broke out a section on online economics. Keep in mind that the report is on news media, not media in general, but the results don’t bode well for paid content in a mass-news market. In a phone survey, 82 percent of online news readers said they’d surf somewhere else for news if they confronted a paywall—even if it was their favorite site.

04/09/2010

How Publishers Plan to Monetize iPad Content

Filed under: digital ads,iPad apps,monetizing online content — gator1965 @ 3:42 pm


Can the iPad save the book, magazine and newspaper industries? You damn right it can, at least it (and improvements to follow) can have a big savior role…IF these industries can monetize their online content. And I have no doubt that quality content will be monetized successfully online…It already has in small pockets around the net.

Macala Wright Lee , writing for Mashable, tells us exactly how some publishers are strategizing online monetization:

Apple announced earlier this week that it had sold more than 300,000 iPads in the U.S. on the first day. Furthermore, iPad users downloaded more than one million apps from the App Store() and 250,000 e-books from the iBookstore on that day alone.

The release of the iPad has the publishing world wondering if paid digital content will put the industry back in the black. While e-books are showing strong growth (as seen by the first day’s downloads), the water is murkier when it comes to newspapers and magazines. All three of the industries are facing formidable challenges in transitioning from print to digital mediums, but some publishers are already taking some interesting approaches.

Exploring Multiple Revenue Streams

Michela Abrams, Publisher and CEO of Dwell Magazine, believes that the iPad will allow Dwell and all its subsidiary companies to generate new revenue streams through paid subscriptions, digital advertising and online-to-offline events. The publication has launched full-scale development of robust iPad apps that will incorporate Dwell advertisers and support cross platform ad integration on the Dwell Partner Network, Fine Living Channel, and the Dwell On Design conference.

“The web is about sharing experiences,” says Abrams. A huge proponent of community, Abrams believes that in order to make digital content on the iPad effective, publishers have to integrate all aspects of their audience into the digital experience.

Says Abrams, “When you serve a community, you should endeavor to know everything about that community no matter what your topic is. You need to know what kind of running shoes they wear, and scotch they drink, what airline they like to fly, and cars they drive; then, and only then, could you really understand your audience’s whole psychographic profile.” This is the philosophy that Dwell is using as it develops monetization strategies for the iPad.

Testing Online-To-Offline Revenue Streams

This summer, Dwell is testing Abram’s new online-to-offline marketing models with the Dwell on Design trade show and conference in Los Angeles. Dwell plans to use their iPad applications for pre-show promotion by releasing 1,000 copies of its iPad design directory before the event. A vendor who participates in the event, such as Herman Miller, is able to have branded content within the digital edition. Advertisers, such as Target, can publish their own mini magazine for customers within the pages of Dwell’s digital editions. This of course, is incorporated into the exhibition and sponsorship for show vendors.

What’s more, Dwell has partnered with sustainable design blog Eco Fabulous, founded by Zem Joaquin, to offer a real-time tour of a sustainable prefab home (the interiors of which were designed by Joaquin) during the conference. The portal for the tour is, what else, the iPad.

Those who can’t attend the show can download the tour app and follow along in real-time. If a viewer sees something they like, they can touch it and discover its designer, and link directly to the company’s website.

Once e-commerce capabilities are enabled for the iPad, Abrams plans to fully integrate them into the digital edition of Dwell, as well as future editions of the Dwell on Design conference app. As consumers or show attendees read through the magazine, they will be able to find out what designer or manufacturer produced the tile, countertop or bedding that’s featured in an advertisement, and simply click through to purchase it.

Getting Consumers To Pay For Digital Content

For magazine publishers wishing to monetize their digital content, success is directly related to the quality of that content. According to a study by eMarketer, if the publication has content that the consumer believes is worth paying for, they will. The publisher then has to figure out how much that consumer is willing to spend and develop a fairly priced payment model.

So how does a magazine go about monetizing its digital content? Well, it’s easier than many may think. A start-up called PixelMags is leading the way for magazine publishers large and small.

38 magazines launched via PixelMags’ iPad apps held top spots on the iTunes Top 50 Paid Book List over the first weekend nationally and internationally. Magazines published on the PixelMags platform include Dwell (and all it’s subsidiaries), iCreate, Eliza, and MacUser.

For publishers, including niche, digital magazines and bloggers, the platform offers additional digital revenue streams. Consumers can purchase new issues and back issues of a magazine; over 25% of them purchase a 12-month subscription to the magazines they download. Magazines with international editions receive instant global distribution in up to 77 countries. A business publication or independent blogger can publish exclusive content, studies, or reports that are available for download at an additional cost.

What sets the PixelMags platform apart from its competitors is that it offers branded apps, complete with custom titles, meta descriptions and keywords; all of which are used for advanced search purposes when an application is launched on iTunes. The platform is compatible across the iPad, iPhone() and iPod Touch. Features include search, zoom, bookmarking options, headline alerts, a virtual library, social network sharing capabilities and in-app purchasing.

For magazine publishers, the PixelMags platform allows consumers to experience rich media content, including integrated, interactive advertising, games, platform-hosted video and vertical ad integration. Development costs vary by the scope of the project, but pricing starts at $1,000 from creation to iTunes launch.

PixelMags creators are excited about the opportunities their platform has to offer those who want to monetize their digital content. Founders Mark Stubbs, a 3D Imaging specialist for Bugatti and Aston Martin, and Ryan Marquis, a digital marketing and e-commerce executive, wanted to take the experiences they used when creating photorealistic imagery for luxury car manufacturers and translate that into the digital experience for content on the iPad and iPhone.

Is The iPad Going To Save Publishing Industry?

Realistic digital magazine replicas, combined with user-friendly features like bookmarking, search options, virtual libraries, headline alerts, in-app purchasing, social network sharing, and endless interactive content – isn’t that the product that millions of magazine readers have been waiting for?

The keys to success of course, lie in the monetization strategy and the quality of the content.

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