Online newspapers need their own economy
With crypto currencies and NFTs being all the rage and some very interesting applications by publishers, I'm reposting a piece I wrote back in 2011.
Here it goes:
The question shouldn’t be ‘how can we engage readers to the point they are happy to pay for content?’ but a much more ambitious model where users can earn, spend, invest and speculate as part of the experience.
Google has just confirmed that it is working on a micropayment system for the Newspaper Association of America based on Google Checkout. This is good news for the industry and not-so-bad news for consumers if pricing will indeed be ‘micro’.
How about ‘micro earnings?’ If user-generated content becomes core content publishers may well start reward schemes enabling people to gain from their efforts. For example, a reader that posts 100 insightful comments earns premium access for a month.
I know little about economy but these seem to be the basic ingredients of how markets work. So why not make things a little bit more interesting and allow that economy to develop? Here are a few ideas that may or may not work for an online newspaper:
- Establish a currency (eg. the New York Times dollars – $NYT) can be bought and sold and perhaps even tied to the value of the newspaper in terms of real $$$
- Allow members to earn $NYT by contributing content and posting comments (different rates would apply) and spend them buying access to content, features, games, etc… or even exchange $NYT between themselves
- Allow members to pool together and invest in the production of special reports and earn a % of the revenue the reports generate
- Establish affiliate schemes members can earn from
- Prize giveaways
This doesn’t sound too far-fetched if you’ve tried Second Life. If you haven’t, have a look at their market data.
Newspapers would generate revenue from selling content as well as taking a small % of every transaction. I wonder if this scenario would help create a stronger bond between the brand and the user too.