• Mohit Kumar

How micropayments can create an additional revenue stream for digital media publishers?

Digital content providers whether it be a blogging site like Medium or large media publishers like Blendle have shown that people are willing to pay for the content they want to read. But that doesn’t mean media publishers can take their consumers as granted and charge them as they like.


Now the focus of debate has been shifted from “will consumers pay for quality content?” to “how to charge the consumer for quality content?”.


Different media publishers came up with their implementation ideas — “Quartz and “Axios” implemented monthly subscription paywall to monetize their platform whereas “The Guardian” choose to implement call to action based micropayment support system.


As more and more media publications are implementing subscription models, we are heading towards the possibility of countering “subscription fatigue.” It’s also leaving very limited options to consumers to choose one or few of their favorite publications and stick with them as buying these subscriptions puts a monthly recurring financial burden on them. According to Reuters’ Journalism, Media and Technology Trends and Predictions 2019 only a small portion of consumers are willing to purchase new digital subscriptions.


Going with the fact that 95% of readers do not want to commit and subscribe


It made publishers to only target the remaining 5% with a subscription model to create a viable financial model. But the question is how we can tap into this remaining 95 % territory and create revenue from them.


To solve this puzzle, a Canadian newspaper Winnipeg Free Press adopted a hybrid micropayment model and showed good results with acquiring more subscribers (more than 70% increase in a year) and selling individual articles as pay you read.

Christian PansonVice President, Digital and Technology, Winnipeg Free Press also commented

Micropayments can’t build a viable financial model but it helps in showing consumers that each quality content is worth of value and eventually change their habit of paying for quality content.

Creating a sales pipeline and more subscribers


Understanding consumer’s behavior and their needs are basic requirements to design a suitable financial model for any company. In reference to the digital publishing industry, understanding the consumer’s reading habits like reading frequency, type of content and paying habit could be beneficial to provide personalized offerings to each consumer.


Most of the digital publishers track how their readers use their site, including those who frequently pay for individual articles. Micropayments can help publishers to implement targeted marketing approaches and design personalized offers for full subscriptions or fixed packages based on their reading habits.


An option to non-frequent readers


Considering the large portion of readers are not regular readers and like to read-only 1 to 5 articles in a week, costly subscription models are not viable choices for them. A hybrid payment system with micropayments can provide a choice for them to pay as they read. In 2016, Winnipeg Free Press reported that it sold 892,000 articles per month at $0.27 per article.


An alternative to Ads


The free press believes in providing free content and still dependent on generating revenue from Ads. They track their consumer’s activities on the page and sell their information to advertising houses like Google and Facebook.


Recently, increasing numbers of Ad blockers in the market also forcing media houses to find alternative solutions to sustain their finances. Micropayments could serve as a new firewall and provide an option for consumers to pay a small fee for Ad-free browsing.


As per one of the study, 80% of people are willing to pay a small value to reduce the Ads. But still, the most viable question remains unanswered — How much you can charge your consumers and how seamlessly you can implement this before consumers feel irritated?


Pay to support


It’s a very unusual model but strangely “The Guardian” chooses to implement this with a spirit of goodwill. Instead of putting a strict paywall, they ask their consumers to donate a small value “$1” to support quality content.


By surprise, The Guardian recently announced that it had seen profit after 20 years. As per their report, in a single year, more than 300K contributed as a one-time payment in micropayments. Apart from their other revenue resources as the free press has, the micropayments added significant value to the end total.


Conclusion


We can say that micropayment is not the ultimate solution to the media industry. But it provides an opportunity to develop a content monetization strategy that gives consumers a choice for purchasing the content they want. Rather than focusing on mitigating the risk by limiting the amount of free content, publishers could focus on producing quality content and implementing an a-la-carte model in combination with subscriptions and they will have a chance to monetize their readers at every level of the conversion funnel.

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