Pay-Per-Article Push Is Making Its Big Move

Blendle, pay per article service, launched in beta recently, with top digital publishers onboard in a bid to battle ad blocking programs

Will readers pay per article to access quality content? Many media companies are hoping so, and the movement might be having its moment.

Of course, like any other tactic, pay per article will not single-handedly save publishers from diminished digital ad revenue. Subscription strategies, white papers, social media, events, and other products all play a part in the best digital magazines.

As always, Digiday has the straight dope. Let’s see what they’re dealing in recent articles.

Can Pay Per Article Service Save Digital Magazines From Ad Blocking?

In the effort to block ad blockers, digital publishers will give anything a try – next up in the arsenal is micropayments, mainly via newish service Blendle, Digiday reports.

“The concept of micropayments for news is gaining appeal, as publishers face a new threat to their ad revenue with the rise of ad blocking. Today, the concept will get a big endorsement when startup Blendle launches in beta in the U.S. with big-name publishers including The New York Times (which is also a backer), The Wall Street Journal, Time Inc. and The Washington Post. … Blendle is noted for its user-friendly interface. It lets users log in with Facebook and buy articles from multiple publishers using a single account that they replenish as they go. Users can get a refund if they’re not satisfied. It helps publishers like the Journal identify potential subscribers to their own sites,” Lucia Moses writes.

“Still, skepticism about this approach has given way to the exploration of other models. Sourcepoint, a startup that provides publishers with tech to unblock blocked ads is working on a paywall product for publishers wanting to upsell ad blockers to subscribe. Long-term, though, it wants to build a Spotify-style site where people could pay a single fee to access multiple publishers’ content. The reason is, consumers have been trained to pay for online content this way, by the likes of Spotify and Netflix, said Brian Kane, a co-founder and COO of Sourcepoint. Micropayments also ignores the fact that some people may want the choice of paying in the form of watching an ad.”

Counterpoint: Why Micropayments Are Not the Answer

Indeed, there is some resistance to the micropayment movement, as Digiday has reported.

“For micropayments to work it has to be on a platform that can take small payments efficiently based on you already having an account, as per iTunes or Blendle. Asking people to set up a brand new micropayment account in order to get an ad free version of an article will have a high bounce rate from both options, I suspect,” News UK  (parent of The Sun and the Times) Chief Customer Officer Chris Duncan told Jessica Davies last month.


Meanwhile, Multiplatform Publishing and Organic SEO Are as Strong as Ever

Speaking of The Sun, it has recently shorn its paywall and finds itself reshaping its audience development strategy, according to Digiday.

“While it was behind a paywall, The Sun’s organic search traffic naturally plummeted, and it’s had to start from scratch to get its stories regularly picked up by Google’s index. So beefing up its SEO writers was a priority. Social referral traffic also dropped to 8 percent while it was behind the paywall,” Davies writes.

“The other big change: Publishing content on third-party platforms suddenly looks a lot more worthwhile, especially now that 80 percent of its traffic is mobile. And The Sun is circling three core platforms: Facebook Instant Articles, Google’s AMP and Snapchat. Although the teams are also looking at whether WhatsApp should be added to the list. ‘Over time people will be able to flit between creating content for all the platforms, but right now, if you’re going to invest in these platforms you want to do something that is worthy of your brands,’” Duncan said.

Speaking of Ad Blocking, Maybe the French Have the Fix?

The French are so cool, even their publishers are putting together cool ideas, Digiday reports.

“Urged by the French online publishing trade body Geste, a group of French publishers is trialling a week-long experiment to deter ad blockers, starting Monday March 21. Those involved include Le Monde, Le Figaro, RTE, Le Parisien, L’Equipe and music platform Deezer. However, unlike the ad blocking collective approach taken by Sweden’s publishers, in which the IAB Sweden is asking publishers to block content for a whole month for those who have ad blockers installed, Geste has not set a standard,” Lucinda Southern writes.

“Instead each publisher is taking its own approach. A Geste spokesperson, which announced the joint approach in December, said it has ‘invited content publishers and online services to deploy an educational device over a week, but some editors may decide to maintain the device any longer.'”

This includes, of course, the pay per article approach, as well as other strategies!

Would you consider pay per article publishing? Tell us your opinions in the comments!

To read more about pay per article trends and other industry news, visit Digiday.


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