12 February 2009

Voluntary Pay Model: A Defence

Could an all-in voluntary payment system be the online news business model in the future?

According to new media pioneer Steve Outing, it may just represent the alternative solution digital publishers are seeking.

Writing in his Editor & Publisher column, Outing mounts an attack on ideas about micropayment systems and instead suggests that a voluntary charging model is more suited to the Web.

He quotes recent musings on the feasibility of a micropayment model – such as this from Walter Isaacson – and asserts that it is “completely counter to the nature of the Internet” and “will hasten newspapers’ death spiral”.

Outing believes that rather being charged a small amount for viewing a particular article, users must be allowed to choose to make a voluntary contribution to see content.

“I’m betting this one will be a tough pill to swallow for many industry executives with traditional media mindsets, but it’s critical because it fits the culture, indeed the nature, of the Internet.

“Traditional micropayment schemes for online news content – ‘pay up or go elsewhere’ fight it, and thus are doomed to fail, in my view.”

And he points to a new patented model from a company called Kachingle as a possible alternative.

Kachingle asks users to pay a monthly fee as an all-in charge for viewing various news websites and blogs.

Participating sites have a Kachingle badge which users will click and thus ensure the websites receive a proportional share of monthly donations.

Outing writes: “Online publishers, including newspaper websites, are more likely to convince people to pay a monthly ‘Internet content fee’ if everyone is in it together and there’s one ubiquitous badge on every content site that an individual visits.

“The publishers who make the most money will be those that produce the best content, and thus get the most people to support them via the Kachingle system.”

Read the full article – “Forget Micropayments – Here’s a Far Better Idea for Monetizing Content” on Editor & Publisher.



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