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What's Wrong With The Traditional Publishing Model In The Digital Age?

Like many other kids growing up in the 1980s, one of my first jobs was as a paperboy, delivering the news to my neighbors. But you don’t see the paperboy around much these days.

Instead, the publishing model has been turned on its head, in large point due to the internet. We consume our content online, yet it seems as if many publishers are still reveling in the time when the news was delivered by hand.

During that golden age, publishers had a captive audience: perennial subscribers who relied on having the news brought to them. That regular stream of revenue was a boon to publishers as it allowed them to reliably plan their cash flow. That model has not transitioned well in the digital age and runs contrary to how people consume content on the internet. After all, with all the content available online, why would anyone want to subscribe to just one publication in order to get their news and entertainment? And they cannot be expected to subscribe to them all, either. Instead, publishers need to adapt to survive, embracing a variety of strategies and models to serve their audience.

How to make your digital readers want to pay — from micropayments to social media subscriptions

As continuous media publishers announce paywalls for their premium content, so are consumers becoming more aware and demanding of the content they read online. This has created a debate, covering a user-willingness to prioritize, and pay for, digital news. Though lately, it seems, the focus has slightly shifted. No longer is the debate asking ‘will consumers pay for quality content?’, but rather ‘how many different subscriptions can a consumer put up with?’

With Quartz, The Information and Axios spearheading the subscription models a few years back, showing the payoff of a paywall, other actors have followed ready to find inventive ways for newsroom monetisation. And the outcome is of considerable size. Call-to-action micro support payment seems to have worked well for The Guardian. The new project The Correspondent put their trust in pay-what-you-can-memberships. The Economist and The New York Times, among others, work with a ‘soft paywall’ that will allow for a small amount of free articles per week.

Cosmin Ene, Founder & CEO of LaterPay, sees that a combination of choice and trust based models will help publishers succeed in monetising more users going forward. He describes that with their patented Pay-Later model, where readers do not pay until they’ve reached a $5 threshold, they help onboard users into paying customers.

In the hunt for reader revenue, publishers give micropayments another look

Micropayments haven’t delivered on their promise to save the publishing business. But publishers are finding new uses for them in the hunt for new subscribers. Both publishers and vendors are driving this shift, and it’s an early step in a long walk publishers have started to augment their advertising business.

Some companies, including LaterPay, have tried to get around this problem by letting users run up tabs and then pay for their consumption later. Others, like the Winnipeg Free Press, started using micropayments as an addendum to a paywall. The Free Press began selling its content for 27 Canadian cents (21 U.S. cents) per article about two years ago. It still does but now sees micropayments less as a revenue stream and more as a way to see who to target for digital subscriptions.

LaterPay brings its media payment technology to the US

LaterPay is offering media companies a business model that goes beyond subscriptions and ads.

Cosmin Ene, the German startup’s founder and CEO, argued that while some publications are having success with paywalls and online subscriptions, it’s an approach that only convinces the most loyal readers to pay.

So LaterPay is trying to help monetize “the vast space” between subscriptions and ads, allowing publishers to charge for their content on an à la carte basis. That can mean charging per article or video, or asking users to buy a pass to their site for a limited period of time.

Pay it forward: LaterPay, a German payment infrastructure company, offers micropayments with a twist

Micropayments, schmicropayments, amirite? For skeptics, any excitement over the pay-per-article model — this mythical iTunes for journalism that the micropayments camp often cites — seems sadly naive. There’s little thus far to convince them that micropayments for news will soon become a driving source of revenue for publishers. Cosmin Ene has clearly been battling the skepticism for a while, and he has counterarguments at the ready in his pitch for his company LaterPay, with helpful analogies and anecdotes abound.