“We feel very strongly that consequential journalism is worth paying for, and that there is a strong need for more innovation in digital media to give consumers more options for directly supporting quality publishers. Blendle is leading the way in proving that micro-payments can be an important part of publishers’ revenue mix, and we are excited to play a role in helping them bring their innovative platform to the U.S. market.”
World Politics Review founder Hampton Stephens commenting on start up Blendle pay-per-article model
As the ad blockade continues as parlayed in Why the Rise of ad-Blockers is killing free Publisher and App Content, solutions are already popping up that reward producers of quality content.
A Dutch Start-up named Blendle is banking on the idea that people will pay to read high quality articles from publisher and writers, iTunes style, instead of whole magazines and newspapers.
Their idea, based somewhat on the micropayments model used in mobile video games as described in Smartphones and Apps – Freemium Games are No. 1 will see subscriber paying a few cent to read high quality articles.
Already as of launching, they have some 10,000 subscribers with some high quality publishers:
- The Wall Street Journal
- The Economist
- The New Yorker
- New York Magazine
- Bloomberg Businessweek
This business model may mark the return of micropayments, the failed concept from the 90’s. This time around, the danger is clear. Social Media websites, particularly Facebook and Twitter are, the main source of news for many Millennials trying to avoid Newspaper and Magazine paywalls as noted in Pew Research posits 3 in 10 get their News via Facebook as Paper set to go live.
Even YouTube’s Newswire is getting a slice of the Millennials action as noted in YouTube launches YouTube Newswire to verify Eyewitness Videos as most Millennials watch videos instead of taking the time to patiently read a lengthly news article.
With ad blockers costing the advertising industry some US$22 billion based on a survey by Adobe and PageFair, a company that measures use of ad blocking by visitors to publisher websites, solutions like Blendle are a welcome breath of fresh air for writes of quality content.
So how does Blendle work that any different from paid content writing?
How Blendle works – Good, well written, well researched engaging articles to-the-point articles
The cost depends on the publisher:
- US$ 0.19 and US$0.39 cents from newspapers
- US$0.09 and US$0.49 cents from magazines
Blendle has a money back guarantee that’s hard to beat, especially as its ad free, allowing you to read some US$2.50 worth of articles before you get charge a cent on your credit card. If you’ve read the article and are dissatisfied with the quality of what you read, you can get a full refund. The genius of this model is that it encourages quality publishers of content instead of click bait headlines.
Surprisingly the Blendle co-founder Alexander Klöpping says the refund rate in Europe, is 10%, which is somewhat high but is telling of the class of readers that Blendle attracts; they’re looking for a good, well written well researched articles that engages them and get to the point.
The stats for Blendle look promising for the success:
- 650,000 users in Germany and The Netherlands
- 50% under the age of 35
Most likely, Blendle has systems in place to check abuse by frequent reject and incentives for bulk subscribers to their service, such as a survey requirement to exit. They may also be introducing audio and video podcasts alongside the regular fare of written article, also rated on paid and rated by the subscribers in a manner similar to YouTube Red.
There may even be a free option downgrade where you’re bombarded with in sponsored article ads as Apple is currently doing as described in How Apple News’ Sponsored Articles helps Publishers as Ads Blockade continues.
Blendle and micropayments – Selective sponsored journalism as Tomorrow Never dies
I suspect as the quality of content from publishers improves, the refund rate will trend down, especially as Blendle promises an ad-free, paywall free experience in the first place for Ad adverse Millennials.
And with a 70% cut for the publisher, rare for ANY magazine online or content mill, even the prestigious TIME Magazine, you’re encouraged to write more articles to make more revenue per reader than Google AdWords.
Still, this presents the danger of a loss of journalistic independence, as Blendle will most likely want to influence the publisher to write more of a certain type of article due to the economics of supply and demand. Potentially, it would make it possible for individual journalist to make money as publishers, making it pointless to work for a big name newspaper or magazine, especially if you’re already made a name for yourself.
Also, News isn’t like music on iTunes, the model that Blendle resembles the most. News read once is discarded and doesn’t get referenced frequently unless it’s a “how to” article as opined by associate professor in the Information Systems department at Boston University, Marshall W. Van Alstyne, quote: “News is not like an iTunes song; it’s perishable. Today’s front page is tomorrow’s fish wrap, and we don’t need to replay it”.
Worse, a study done by Dr. Nick Geidner and Dr. Denae D’Arcy from the University of Tennessee, suggest that micropayments cause readers to pay to read only articles that suit their opinion; contrary opinion articles are what may account for the 10% refunds.
Thus for Blendle to make revenue, they’ll have to make sure they have a massive customer base from a huge cross section of the Developing World, not just the US of A and provide newspapers and magazines in print, audio podcast and video podcast formats that suite the diverse opinions of Millennials.
Still, it worth a shot as Blendle should give Google some ideas for an alternative to the Google AdWords, as their revenue is slowly being choked off by ad blockers as noted in Why Google needs new Ad Formats as Telcos will block YouTube Ads.
Heck, maybe they’ll even buy Google and implement their micropayments model to replace AdWords for their blog partners. But that’s for another story!
Here’s the link:
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