Subscriptions used to be related to magazines and newspapers. I oughta know – I haven’t met a business or news-related publication I didn’t like. It still take a tremendous amount of will power on my part to resist the temptation to add another rag to my mailbox. The trouble is I need to read, or at least look at, every page of every publication i’ve subscribed to, resulting in piles of publications…but I digress.
Subscriptions today have expanded both in the types of content available (think music and apps) and in the amount of content that can be purchased. A single song through iTunes, a single article from the Wall St. Journal, and a month of Microsoft Office 365 can now be had for a few bucks a month. These micropayments or low-value payments for goods or services are becoming increasingly prevalent for digital merchants and electronic payments providers.
Digital micropayments are on the rise because they have proven successful for digital music and app purchases. That’s led publishers of digital content, like news or video, to look at them as an alternative way to monetize content, particularly in the wake of rising
ad-blocker usage. The challenge for merchants is to entice enough consumers to adopt micropayments to lower the cost of processing these payments. Many consumers don’t like the idea of paying for small pieces of information such as an article.
I recall my last experience with this. I searched a term and found an article that was about 6 months old. I clicked on the link and saw the article for about 5 seconds before a pop-up window offered to display the article once I paid $0.99. I really wanted to see the article so I bit. I clicked on the link and was taken to a payment page that wanted enough information to check me into a hospital. (All information required, of course). After filling out the form and unchecking the numerous newsletter boxes from the publisher and its numerous affiliates, I was finally able to access the article. Not a good experience at all.
Publishers and app developers are working on this in the form of content aggregators such as Blendle, a Dutch platform that has buy-in from publishers across the industry and allows customers to pay per article within its own proprietary feed, has seen slow but steady growth. We will see more players develop models that integrate content and payments to gain the necessary buy-in from merchants and consumers alike to make the model more successful across the board.