The People Want To Pay For Journalism, Just Not To Subscribe...
A few days ago, @Bibliogato AKA Katherine Locke, published this Tweet and started quite a thread. Her asking for access to journalism in a Pay As You Go model got a very large number of users agreeing on the problem and solution. Katherine has 13.8K followers and yet this Tweet garnered (as of 6/5):
- 71.2K likes
- 6,295 Retweets
- 993 Quoted tweets
- Over 300 comments
These numbers are staggering when you think about the fact that she is not a celebrity or media person and that over 71,000 Twitter user are ASKING to pay for journalism, just not to subscribe.
At Paygo, we were super excited to hear random users describe our system. As believers, we were happy to see the positive sentiment. We analyzed the 300+ comments and we recommend that every publisher read them as your future is there. Here are a few themes we saw:
Overwhelming positive (and excited) sentiment and acknowledgment of the need - 65% wildly excited, 31% moderately excited only 3.5% negative.
@Bibliogato The whole "This article is trending on Twitter, but I can't read it because I don't have a sub to the company" thing is infuriating.
@Bibliogato @NicolefromBR Been saying this for a while. Love local investigative reporting and want to support those writers but I’m not paying for the entire enchilada.
@Bibliogato Absolutely agree. Would gladly pay a piece rate for a specific article when otherwise I might not pay anything at all. Could really get creative too - higher prices for when an article is first published or whether it’s a lengthier investigative piece etc.
Paygo's solution gives the publisher an easy way to let users who hit their paywall buy the one article they want and at the price set by the Publisher. The positive sentiment echos other data we collected, see here
Price points mentioned are between $0.10 and $2 with an average of $0.67
@Bibliogato I wouldn't mind paying extra, like $2 more for an article if it was worth it, like tipping.
@Bibliogato @darth Yes! There's no way I'm going to pay for an annual subscription to, say, the Wall Street Journal, but I would gladly pay $1 if there's an article I'm interested in.
@Bibliogato Yes. And maybe even 50 cents. I read a lot of articles.
Paygo’s Micropayments platform allows Publishers to offer content for several cents, experiment with pricing, offer bundles, daily, and other access options including tipping. Would You Pay 5 Cents to Read This Article? Here’s Why Micropayments Could Help Save the News.
Main issue with the current status quo is the friction of the services, signing up for multiple services, canceling accounts, and being cheated. This sounds like the way consumers describe the worst monopolies, not beloved (and trusted) brands.
@EdBonillaB @Bibliogato I lost track and the next thing I know I'm getting charged for a year's subscription. Maybe that's the point. 🤷♀️At any rate, this would be a fabulous idea.
@Bibliogato @davewiner This is a great idea. Give people a way to pay something without a commitment that has to be cancelled. Make the one-time payment reasonable and frictionless. And people will pay.
@SmoovP @Bibliogato Ugh, the last time I did this, I subscribed and read the *1* article I needed for a project. I had to call to cancel and got the hard sell. I was like, I was happy to pay for the article but I don't live there, I really do not have the capacity to even read the local headlines.
@Bibliogato I literally just did this yesterday. Had to sign up and give my cc info to read one article. Then I called customer service to cancel/make sure they don't automatically continue to charge me for a subscription I did not want. We'll see....
With Paygo, users have a digital wallet they add a balance to so when they hit a participating Publishers paywall, they can unlock the article with one click, no need to sign up, pull out a credit card, give away your personal data, worry about being spammed. One click and you read the article. ‘An EZ Pass’ for Journalism: Why Paygo says Micropayments Are the Industry’s Future
Second issue is the cost of multiple subscriptions. The concept of subscribing to everything makes no sense and cannot scale, leading to the worst outcome for Consumers (who get no access) and Publishers (who only monetize 2% of their users)
@holemac1 @Bibliogato I totally agree. I wish I could afford a million subscriptions, but it’s just not a reality. But I sure as hell would spend a few dollars a month reading local stories, especially if they hooked it up to Apple Pay.
@LisaHoadley @Bibliogato Yeah but I feel I am being hosed with recurring subscriptions. I would rather pay 2x as much for daily articles. I have dropped most of them. They should offer a choice. Papers would then have instant feedback on issues readers care about.
@Bibliogato I would love that! So many news outlets and great articles but subscribing to all is not financially viable for many news lovers.
@Bibliogato @darth I'm with you, Katherine. I don't know how anyone whose job or company isn't paying for all these subscriptions can afford all these subscriptions.
By implementing a Pay As You Go option, Publishers can tighten their Paywalls (less free articles), give more consumers access to their content at a reasonable price point
Third is our future as a liberal democracy requires an educated citizenry or consumer access to trustworth news. Current status quo makes free lies a better option than the paywalled truth
@jdkahler @Bibliogato I can't solve every problem in the world, sorry. But considering we are fighting a serious battle against misinformation, putting the truth behind a paywall seems counterproductive.
@Bibliogato @Tinu But you can get the …. rags for free. That's part of the problem. Stupidity and lies are free and intelligence and truth aren't.
@MMMDONUT22 @jdkahler @Bibliogato yes quality news costs money but …. is free...however quality news costs more so we need to fund it somehow
Giving citizens access to truthful and diverse information is why we founded Paygo. You can read our thoughts here or our founders thoughts here or video here
The solution users want is friction free access, one account (no per publication signups or friction), diversity of publications and control over what they buy. They want to read multiple sources and subscribe to a few but not to all of them.
@Bibliogato I'd love to see a system where you can put money ($20) in an account and pay-per-article at a wide range of papers, with the money going to the specific paper.
@Bibliogato @ItsTheBrandi Definitely make it work with apple pay. No check out, do not make me create an account. Just thumb print and read. For the love of all that's good, allow me to make quick impulse purchases.
@Bibliogato It should be like an EZPass account, linked to your credit card. Each article would have a price, you click on it to read and your account is charged.
@Bibliogato @darth Be awesome to have a service that you load up with money and all news sites are linked into - and you can just pay the price to unlock that article permanently.
@DavidJonFuller @Bibliogato @courtcan This is good - it would be awesome if I could have a prepaid account linked to newspapers across the country that would pay for each article. I could top up however much I could afford to spend at that time and wouldn't have to remember a million logins and journalists could get paid
The Paygo solution is just that - the consumer adds a few dollars to a prepaid digital wallet. Any time they encounter a Paygo supported paywall - they can decide to subscribe or buy the article with one click. We do not believe that Publishers should give up their brand, like with Apple News or aggregators, and should remain the destination site and trusted brand. This is why Paygo is a plugin to existing sites and systems, users read and interact on the Publisher brand, not a separate app, we just enable the friction free unlocking via Micropayments of the content. We are NOT a recommendation service, a destination site or a brand competitor to the Publisher. From Subscription Fatigue to Paywall Piracy, Publishers Face Many Challenges
See this article and Micropayment Paywall live here
Publishers have trained users on how to steal, like P2P networks in the past, and many users shared “stealing” tips.
@Bibliogato If you have an iPhone just go to safari then click advanced and then turn off Java, you can then read almost everything behind a paywall. Just remember to turn it back on when you’re finished reading.
@Bibliogato Two words: Incognito mode
If you don't give consumers access at a reasonable price point and model, they will just steal the content which is usually easier than signing up. The Music and Video industries learned that the hard way. News is different in terms of solution needed (not an aggregator) but the same consumer dynamics are true.
Publisher profitability - they did seem to care about the publishers profitability and issues and offered a few ideas
@Bibliogato I think that if newspapers had started out with a penny per view model that they wouldn't have gotten crushed by Facebook and Google so badly.
@Bibliogato I would love to access @wvgazettemail, my hometown paper, this way. And the subscription drain might be mitigated by making it available only to people whose billing zip codes aren’t eligible for paper delivery.
@Bibliogato Newspapers REFUSE TO TAKE MONEY AND BE PROFITABLE 👏🤣
@Bibliogato Ultimately these papers represent an old power structure that’s backward looking. They don’t have it in them to adapt except reactively and slowly.
@Bibliogato Like when record companies didn't want to sell individual songs, mainly albums iTunes showed selling individual songs could workNewspapers still trying to figure out digital more than 18 years after the music industryAnd music indus only after Napster, et al forced them
One of the Paygo design principles is to empower the Publisher to control their destiny and Brand. Publishers can decide to whom and when to show the Paygo button. Local papers can show it to non-DMA users, Publishers can show it to users who have not converted after many attempts, users who came off a social media links or AMP articles... It's the Publishers business and they should make those decisions. Read out thoughts on How and why Publishers should implement Micropayments
At Paygo Media we, of course, strongly believe in Pay As You Go access to News and have built a platform to enable Publishers to offer Pay As You Go Micropayments (several cents per article), side by side with the subscriptions and advertising models. Our platform solves the transaction cost issue, making a $0.15 payment profitable (without Paygo it's a losing proposition as transaction cost at least $0.30), removes the friction (one click, no signup, with any participating publisher), Privacy (the user does not share their personal information to read one article) and is super easy to add WITHOUT needing integration into the Publishers backend systems.
We believe that the Publishers' most important asset is their brand - this is what trust is based on. Read the way your customer describes you and you should be worried and try something new. You are not monopolies like Cable companies who can afford to be hated - you need to be loved and trusted and earn that every day. Most Consumer-Tech companies start with listening to their customers' needs, building beloved brands, products and services. When the customers are happy, there are many ways to monetize the service well. I hope you have heard the voices of your current and potential customers in this thread and we would be happy to help you try our Pay Per Article, with Micropayments, with no engineering work on your side and in parallel to your existing systems and models.