There’s got to be an easier way

Gilles Domartini | Sun May 09 2010

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Rupert Murdoch’s announcement of a new subscription model for news and other digital content from News Corp. has been getting a lot of press lately.

But are paywalls the way to go? I’m not so sure... Here are a few simple reasons why:

  1. We all suffer from severe attention deficit: we have 100's of TV channels, and zillions of blog, webpages, documents to read. We hardly spend more than a few minutes (and my kids barely a few seconds) on a single piece of content. Paywall are a holdover from when people got their news delivered in the morning and had to wait until the next day to get more news.
  2. People are turned off by subscriptions, especially when they only want access to a single piece of content, like an article mentioned on Twitter or recommended by a friend. People don’t want to take out their credit card (or maybe in the future their phones), enter a number, wait for confirmation and finally "enter". Twitter is instant, so we need an instant monetization solution.
  3. For content publishers, paywalls hide content from search engines...and sorry Mr Murdoch, but that's a big deal. 90+% of all internet browsing start with a search request. There is so much content out there, if YOUR content is not findable, it is not worth creating it.
  4. And these are not the only challenges. (I’m not going to list them all here, but here’s a good overview from Frederic Filloux of the challenges facing publishers).

Micropayments seem like the way to go. Just look at iTunes. Remember all those people who said that consumers would never pay for music? Well, they were wrong. Consumers are willing to pay a small amount for content they value (see great study from Nielsen done in 52 countries of 27,000 consumers), especially if the payment model is easy and the content offering is rich. With this in mind…

Wouldn’t it be cool if…

  • Consumers could buy content on the fly for pennies with one click?
  • Consumers didn’t need a subscription or special reader to view paid content?
  • Consumers could have access to all the content they’d paid for in one place?
  • Consumers could share content they like with their friends?
  • Publishers could create a new revenue stream in addition to ad revenues and monthly subscriptions?
  • Publishers could decide to mix paid and free content on the same page or within the same article?
  • Publishers could implement a free solution into their existing CMS?

Well, that in a nutshell is the idea behind Cleeng. It’s a plug-in that lets publishers monetize video, text and image content using their existing CMS. It’s a service that lets consumers buy content with one-click micropayments. A frictionless experience: NO subscriptions, NO paywalls, NO technology tie-in. Simple.

It’s also the start of an adventure. Watch this space.

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