Thanks, Google One Pass! All that's missing is social networks and services

Gilles Domartini | Thu Feb 17 2011 | Industry insights


Google CEO Eric Schmidt has unveiled a new subscription service, Google One Pass, which allows users to pay for content accessible across multiple devices including laptops, smartphones and tablets. I wonder why it took so long for such large company to create such service...and if it was a good idea to have shared our business plan with Google Ventures back in September last year...

It is truly great news for the publishing industry and our business to have a company like Google that introduces such an ambitious service. Yes, the iPad introduced a new platform. Yes, smartphones allow users to read news anywhere. But the challenges surrounding content monetization remained. There was still a huge amount of skepticism around content monetization, due to lack of innovation. If the number of tweets today on the topic is any indication of the changing perception, then for sure today it is a great day for all of those willing to monetize content.

The new Google service offers a number of features that Cleeng pionneered with its model. The press release claims "authenticate existing subscribers so that readers don’t have to re-subscribe in order to access their content on new devices", and also "Purchase-once, view-anywhere functionality", and "By providing a single system for user authentication, payment processing, and administration".
Well, all of those are covered by Cleeng too, and needless to say, both also have easy, lightweight technology implementation (only Cleeng has a WordPress plugin).

Now, we can read too a lot of comments about Google move:
- GigaOM: "any publisher who sees One Pass as some kind of golden ticket is dreaming in technicolor"
- Niemanlab "Google’s One Pass is pretty much just a warmed-over content paywall"
- Techcrunch "from a user perspective, given the data sharing situation, there’s no question that Apple’s system is more favorable"

So, not a completely positive situation, because it still creates a lot of antagonism between publishers and users. And that's key!

Why did NetFlix, Apple, Amazon and other flagship e-commerce companies win? Because they care about the users. If you read about the Google announcement, there is hardly anything that truly benefits users. It is either all good for Google (using Checkout and Gmail) or for publishers.

At Cleeng, we truly believe that a monetization system can only succeed in the long run if it also benefits the user. And here are the few things we'll continue to work on closely together with publishers, for the benefits of users:

  1. The experience must be social: Limiting the system to the transaction only is not good enough. The experience must extend beyond the transaction, and become truly social. The successes of HuffingtonPost or Mashable are great examples. When you share articles you buy, you also collect credits. That's a win-win situation for both publishers and readers. Only Cleeng offers a referral system that rewards users when they shares articles they have purchased.
  2. Integrate users feedback: Knowing what you buy is today's standard practice online. First introduced by Amazon, user ratings are now everywhere when you deal with e-commerce. The same thing should apply to content. Evaluate before you buy, and buy safely. It will improve consumer confidence, increase conversion rates and reduce "returns" by maximizing satisfaction.
  3. Customer support: Google is well known for their lack of true consumer service. The experience with the Google Phone, and the quick withdrawal from the market was quite interesting. Who will take care of customer service? If Apple charges 30% for  a transaction, I don't think it is for paying the credit card providers. It is to deliver an unparalleled user experience, before, during and AFTER the purchase of a product.

In the illustration below, you can see how such features are already integrated into the Cleeng's content monetization solution. When an article is still covered, and just after the article was bought. (For a real demo, click here):

After today's announcement, we'll certainly have to add more options to the platform, such as allowing transactions above 99 cents and giving personalization features to large publishers. Yet, our solution is ready to roll-out, and only takes 10 minutes to install and get running using WordPress.

If you think, like us, that Google One Pass is a great move for the industry, but yet could be much improved. If you don't want to be locked into another "closed-wall" solution, this time managed by Google. If you believe users and publishers should both reap strong benefits when dealing with content monetization. Then, Cleeng is the solution.

Do you agree with us?

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