Mediabistro founder Laurel Touby to receive 2011 Exceptional Woman in Publishing Award
Saturday, February 19th, 2011
The Exceptional Woman in Publishing Award recipient for 2011 is Laurel Touby, founder and senior vice president of mediabistro.com. The annual award is given to a woman in publishing who has achieved a high standard of professional excellence, has made extraordinary contributions to the publishing industry as a whole, and consistently offers guidance to others so they too may become outspoken leaders.
Touby is the thirteenth recipient of the EWIP award and joins a distinguished list of women, including Gloria Steinem, Ardie and Marie Rodale, Dorothy Kalins, and Katrina vanden Heuvel. The EWIP president will present Laurel Touby with the award at the Women’s Leadership Conference luncheon on February 25, 2011. http://bit.ly/hf2Xvg
Woman and the Machine: Publishing, Technology, and the Female Brain, Exceptional Women in Publishing’s third annual Women’s Leadership Conference is hosted by Barbara Newton, President of Sunset Publishing. Sessions presented by over thirty innovative entrepreneurs, print and online journalists, and creative and business leaders from a variety of publishing, media, and technology enterprises will explore the nearly ubiquitous use of technology and its impact on our work, products, lives, and even our brains. Attendees will have an opportunity to demo the latest digital devices in the Demo Lounge.
City Club of San Francisco
155 Sansome Street, 11th floor [8am-5:30pm]
San Francisco, CA
New Ways to Get Paid for Your Web and Mobile Content
Monday, February 14th, 2011
Bob Atkinson, Senior Technology Consultant
It seems that every day the ever-changing 3-D puzzle publishers face getting their content into mobile-device editions and, more importantly, trying to make money for both website and mobile edition content gets more complicated.
Predictably, there's a rapidly-evolving ecosystem of new developers, software or cloud-based services that promise to solve all your problems. Let's have a look at a few of these and how they fit into the market …
But first, a little important background to set the scene.
Only the top 10% highest-visited publisher sites make significant ad income, so most newspaper and magazine publishers have debated various user-pay models over the past decade. The vast majority of their sites, however, are still free to users. They're afraid to lose the visitors and ad impressions they already get if they charge for their content.
The most common website pay model is still a 'hard paywall', where 20% or less of the site content is available until you've signed up for a paid account, typically billed monthly or annually to a credit card. Every time you visit the site you log in to see the full content. Sites implementing this type of pay model will normally see a huge drop (often 90% or more) in visitors and ad impressions beyond your top page over the month or two after the wall is running, then slowly building a paid audience after that, depending on content popularity.
A newer and more popular model uses a softer 'metered' approach instead of a hard wall. With this model, the site tracks the total number of content items (stories, videos, blogs, etc.) every user consumes, and, only after a certain number of items (usually measured in total items consumed in all visits across a week or a month, as tracked by cookie files on the user's computer) the user is required to create an ongoing monthly account with a credit card to access more. That means that any user can visit the site and look at content for free indefinitely, as long as he/she does not exceed the weekly or monthly maximum. Casual or 'fly-by' visitors following a link to a particular item on your site will never even see the pay request. With the metered approach you don't see the huge drop in overall visitors or ad impressions.
As you can imagine, only a small fraction of visitors – your most enthusiastic, frequent and loyal audience – will likely go for either pay model. The metered approach casts a wider net, likely converting your top 15-20% of frequent visitors into paying customers across the first year, compared to the 4-7% for a hard paywall approach. The jury is still out as to which method is the most lucrative at the end of the day – the hard paywall maximizes income from a small highly-faithful audience segment at the expense of total ad impressions, while the metered approach tries to balance the two income sources. With either method, the more popular and unique content you have, the higher your conversion rates will be. Sites with highly-specialized industry-specific content (law, medicine, business, etc.) and those with exclusive content by popular contributors will do best with either approach. As always, content is king – on paper, TV, or on the web.
Either pay model can be implemented with eCommerce software added to your web server (anywhere from $1,000 to $20,000, based on features) or by using a cloud-based web eCommerce service that handles all your tracking, user account and purchase functions in the background for a commission (10% to 20%).
Recently, two other possible pay models have gained traction as well …
The first is the 'á la carte', method, where, over and above certain free content items on your site, the visitor can pay for specific items, one at a time, typically for anything from five cents up to 50 cents. It's never been cost-efficient to do micro-purchases like this on websites because the user time & effort involved plus fixed transaction costs were far too high. Recently some web-based services have appeared that make it fast and cost-efficient to sell your content an item at a time. Typically, these systems sign up publishers' and blog sites on one side and sell monthly or annual member accounts to the public on the other.
Members (with desktop, laptop or mobile-device browsers) can visit any of the sites and access content items, one at a time, by clicking on a little icon at the top of the article. The service handles the item billing for a commission and reports on monthly viewer analytics to their sites. For the website, it's fast and free (or cheap) to implement. For the audience, a single account allows them to instantly access and pay for just the content they want across many paid sites.
For an example of this sort of service, have a look at Cleeng (http://cleeng.com), a recent entry to the business. They offer free plug-ins to quickly implement their service on sites using popular CMS systems like Drupal, Joomla, WordPress and BrightCove, and charge anywhere from 20-25% commission on transactions.
A key consideration when looking at any of these services is whether the service has enough of a critical mass of sites to attract audience accounts in large numbers.
A second approach is the upcoming wave of pay-access content aggregators. These are available to the public as paid news or entertainment websites and/or mobile apps, and they sign up contributing sites in the same way as news syndicators like AP. You're paid every time someone accesses one of your items.
Among the most promising of these are Google's upcoming NewsPass system (a paid version of their popular Google News site with a probable Android app to follow), Next Issue Media (http://nextissuemedia.com/index.php) and OnGo (see: http://paidcontent.org/article/419-with-social-news-site-ongo-aggregation-and-paywalls-are-brought-togethe/). Apple are also quietly shopping an as-yet-unannounced paid news app to publishers as well. Little detail is available so far, but it may be a viable iOS alternative, given Apple's ever-changing (and tightening) rules for publishers' own apps in the App Store.