Will paid content be the future of the web?

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Talking about the future of the web, everybody becomes an expert these days. And all of a sudden they are all media experts. One thing is for sure. Without content there is no future of the web. The interesting fact is: People cannot see the future of the web without evaluating the value of content, not even the experts.

This becomes clear when watching interviews. Although Jeremiah Owyang, the web strategist at Forrester Research, is referring to their great outlook on the future of the social web, he also touches the point sharing content in the future.

So, we all know that content drives the web. But isn’t it bizarr that nobody wants to pay for it while still paying for outdated content on print…?

After a deade, the question is raised again this week, if paid content is the only viable way to generate reasonable revenue streams. For publishing companies it is the desperate need of not being dependable on banners, text ads, affiliate marketing and small e-commerce dollars that keeps a web business running – or even growing.

The paid content topic seems to develop faster as a real need for interactive discussion amongst all relevant media experts than any other topic on the web future in the economy these days – and not only online as I could see at different events this week.

The need for continuity, for steady income streams, is the reason why paid content is the big thing that comes up quite frequently these days.

This interview between Tom Glocer of Reuters and CNN’s Richard Quest from this week stresses the importance of extracting non-advertising revenue from websites. Charging for content, charging the consumer, is the hope of the web platform providers for the future… and not only for the profesional users.

The reason why paid content might become future of the web is no secret. Somebody has got to pay the bill… for head counts, electric costs, the quality of journalism and so on – as traditional digital advertising revenues cannot cover the operation costs of any web business efforts.

When I wrote about The Social Globe (a subscription model for social network use) some weeks ago, people send me emails saying I should not push the idea of a paid social networks world. You were probably right, in saying I was too bringing this perspective too early. Not because nobody did see the option as I could read in mais, but more as there is so much work to do before paid social media models might become reality.

First, there will be the newspaper and publishing companies that have to address this issue with a serious intention. This is what people see as more obvious as thy realize the ‚blood, sweat and tears‘ behind the product for ages.

Now, the question is if media tycoon Rupert Murdoch might kick this paid content topic off, so that the future will be nearer than we all think. With his paid TV business, he has got the proof that it can work – although it might take some time…

„We are now in the midst of an epochal debate over the value of content and it is clear to many newspapers that the current model is malfunctioning“ Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO of News Corp. said yesterday.

Yes, we are… but does not the newspaper and publishing industry have to share their views, their interest and their goals? Isn’t this the access to the future of paid content? Why? My view is …

Spot On!
Reuters, Forrester and News Corp. face the reality of content on the web. Content is key. Some weeks ago, Chris Poley told users they need to prepare to pay for content. And there will be more experts focusing on paid content, like Rupert Murdoch, who also said…

„I don’t think you can afford to put a lock and chain on the front page. It is a matter of figuring out which products you can charge money for.“

Sorry, I don’t agree with you, Mr. Murdoch. Yes, I do agree Mr. Glocer. The doors need to be locked. In my eyes it depends on how the paid content ’system‘ or ‚platform‘ charges the user – not which content is ‚wanted‘. This will be self-regulating. The newsstand tradition has proven this truth in the past, and TV premium-subscription models, too.

Will the following idea be a valid solution…?

„ONE-stop shopping with ONE single sign-on solution, being able to open up hundreds of doors with ONE account by ticking which subscriptions I want to read and then getting ONE invoice per month.“

This is the idea I described with myThe Social Globe vision. No doubt. The web will not be unpaid business in the future. Content is king! The only question is if the publishing industry goes the next step together or not… Right?

PS: We have had this solution years ago when we kicked of silicon.de. I could bite my *** that we have not started to charge from the beginning…

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4 Kommentare zu "Will paid content be the future of the web?"

  1. Gisela Schmalz am 26.05.2009 22:38 

    „In my eyes it depends on how the paid content ’system’ or ‘platform’ charges the user – not which content is ‘wanted’.“

    My eyes look at the paid content-thing in the same way. Quality in the net is no distinctive criterion, it might be a) community, b) value added services or c) newness (topicality or innovation/first movership). Content Provider should take a good look at what the Game Developer/Publisher do. I wrote a whole book about the topic. It´s called NO ECONOMY (Eichborn 2009, 224 S.). The title is in English, but the content in German…

  2. Werbewirkung von Werbeformaten: Es zählt, was unterhält… am 27.05.2009 13:21 

    […] kann kein Medium langfristig existieren und dann bleibt dem Mediengeschäft wohl nur eine Zukunft mit Paid Content – und die werden dem User wohl auch nicht gefallen. Wer glaubt, daß Web 2.0 könne sich […]

  3. Martin Meyer-Gossner am 27.05.2009 13:38 

    If the user does not receive the content that is popular, fresh or kicking, he/she will not be paying for it. But also important is the convenience and usability of the process that the paying mode is based upon. The less interactions, the more likely the user is to accept to pay for content. Definitely agreed…

  4. News Update - Best of the Day am 15.06.2009 11:20 

    […] Advertising 2.0 conference in New York… and I was happy to read his words in B2B Online as paid content needs to be the future of the web. “I absolutely believe that the Internet is passing from its free phase to a paid system,” he […]

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