I think people value good content, but not all content is the same. Certain creators or agencies have intrinsic "quality" associated with their reputation, and if there is an interesting story or video that I can't find anywhere else, I'd pay a few cents to read or view it.
For general stuff, like current news and affairs, where I'm just wanting to learn about an event or happening, I'd most likely Google around searching for a free synopsis somewhere that will get me gist of the "thing" versus pay the NYT or someplace else 25¢ for the same information.
Original, high quality content has value. I just don't want to spend $20 a month hoping to get my money's worth.
I think part of the problem is there is usually an all-or-nothing approach taken.
I pay for a number of things and I'm ready to pay for more things. Here are the rules that almost nobody seems to be able to get right:
- I'll not pay monthly unless I have to. Everyone and their dog wants recurring revenue but the only ones I'm happy to pay constant recurring fees to are: hosting providers, email providers and all-you-can-listen/-watch services that contains everything . Especially bad are local newspapers that are all paywalled - but won't sell me access to that one article someone linked but instead wants to sell me a subscription.
- Blendle: I'll be happy to pay for more articles on Blendle (Computer magazines, this one goes to you.)
- Blendle-like services from other actors.
- I'd even be happy to pay for ads to disappear. I'm a nice guy and I'm looking for ways to support the places I visit. Sadly Google closed that experiment before I could even try it.
: At the moment this list contains just one entry, Spotify.
People don't want to pay per article. It's too much friction to decide every time they read something (or worry about refunds after the fact), and many users spend hours on these sites going through hundreds of pages. Easy discovery of other stories is a major part of publisher value. Blendle pricing doesn't work at scale for mainstream users and they say that themselves, but they have a beta in the US if you still want to use it: https://launch.blendle.com/
(Feel free to PM me too if you'd like.)
Each users money was split by time spent on each domain monthly which was the only collected data. Held in escrow until publishers claimed each domain. Biggest problem was getting people to consider that subscriptions were worth it, even if they were spending 10s of hours on these sites. $0.99 had interest but was not viable. $9.99 had some uptake but under 1% conversions.
Overall didn't make enough money and pubs also too scared/proud to work on anything other than their own subscriptions. Lots of politics in this industry and lack of cooperation is a major obstacle.
This doesn't happen if you're paying per article, based on a preview.
Charging, say, 10¢ for the article can help them generate revenue from those that don't want to shell out for another subscription.
Bingo! I had been using Patreon as a "poor man's micropayments." I was implementing the "spend what you would on a cable subscription" idea and spreading mostly $1 payments across nearly 40 YouTubers. I would love a system that just makes micropayments as I browse/watch.
Just don't fall into the trap of many others that wants to take an amount from my account every month. I'm quite fed up with that.
Instead allow me to pay per view. I'll happy pay a sum in up front to reduce friction.
I don't want to pay for everything I watch eiher; I don't think I need to give money to people who repost memes on YouTube.
I am however missing some way to toss creators who don't create frequently, but made something really valuable to me a bit of money.
I'd also like to be able to more finely split the money I give to creators.
A company doing this is Noa. They have humans read articles from a bunch of publishers, and have a subscription.
It's basic stuff around loss aversion that's real and documented in real humans as opposed to homo economicus
Why wouldn't the same thing work for micropayments?
Click the link, pay $0.10. If you discover the headline was clickbait, or the writing was bad, or for any reason you didn't like it, click the "refund" button.
Yeah, a few people will abuse this and just refund everything. Retailers have solved this problem, too. People with a refund rate more than 2 sigma from the mean don't get refunds on that site anymore.
It's not worth the time. People don't want to make decisions about quantifying if something was worth $0.10 of enjoyment. They'll just go elsewhere to slightly worse but totally (guilt-)free content.
FWIW i have no problem installing a micropayment plugin in Chrome that is connected to my credit card, and paying $.05 or something if I find an article I enjoy. I say this -- but I'm terrified of what future that will bring to the internet. Where now everything is behind a micro-paywall.
Mind you, this is insanely successful for a writer.
Even still, if on Medium, 3% of people who read my articles are willing to pay $0.25 for them -- I'd make about about $600.
TBH, I'd rather not bug my readers for that little bit of money.
Turned out ads were a nice middle ground for most people on most sites. Most ads were boring banner ads. Most people could ignore them. I wasn't hustling for pennies. People who couldn't pay didn't have to. People didn't have to grapple with loss aversion for visiting a website. The model had issues, but it worked.
Now that ad-blocking is ubiquitous, I'm left running my sites (chiefly, a large forum) as a charity. Unless something changes, the internet will soon be centralized corporation-run megasites like Reddit/Facebook... and then the few charity sites run by individuals who can find a niche not dominated by the former.
I don't see a replacement for ads on the horizon. Micropayments still don't work. Nobody wants to have that "will it be worth it?" anxiety every time they click a link. Not every website on the internet can erect its own paywall. Even if you're in the rare position to negotiate private ad deals, then you're probably big enough to get your own entry on Easylist.
As I speak, there's a frontpage submission lamenting the death of individual/smaller sites and weirdness on the internet. There's much more death to come.
I feel like it couldn't be worse than the current situation where everything is "free" = ad-funded. Especially when those ads are consolidated under few giants.
Personally, I'd be happy to have some sort of pay-per-article "account" I could use as-needed. But it's really hard to decide whether something is worth reading up-front. And after-the-fact I'm guessing most folks will just not bother. So I'm not sure how you address that. But again, best of luck to anyone taking this on. I'm rooting for you.
We've spent the last year building this platform, and done a ton of surveys and studies to support the thesis behind the product -- users are fatigued by subscriptions, and ads are annoying.
The platform is also technically very interesting, and I'm happy to talk about that too.
One integrated, the payment flow is smooth -- they click pay on your site, it pops up a credit-card entry form, with an e-mail textbox for signup. Once verified, the goods are paid for and you get a signed receipt to deliver your content. (User's cards are charged after they hit a payment threshold.)
More about it on our knowledge base: https://how.quid.works
(Also good point, we'll make that clearer on our site.)
Conclusion: micropayments are hard.
This looks like it aggregates credit card payments.  Charging you on a biweekly basis or when your balance hits 10$. Since it is built off of credit card infrastructure that means it is saving money on the fixed per-transaction fee. Unfortunately, this model can never get below a credit card fee (2.9%).
If you instead made a wallet based app (funded via ACH) you could start pushing 1% transaction fees.