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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Online Paid Content

I've read a number of blogs and newsletters (predominately from publishers) that propose a new paradigm on the web ... pay per visit content. Let's call it PayPal perusal reading. I read with glee the comparison between the transition that the music industry went through with paying for online media content. That scenario sets up a nice thesis but it’s simply not going to work. Just as sure as the sun shines and a sales rep deviates from a rate card (this occurs daily), this model would last about a month. If you need more evidence, simply look at the damage Craig’s list has done to classified advertising in every major newspaper.
It would play out along these lines …
The paid content alliance publishers would form an alliance. Perhaps they would call it the “our content is king and we have an editorial staff that are star fire journalists” alliance. You visit our site and you'll pay for the new content coming from a trusted source ... a writer in the know.
The model would meet immediate resistance and web site/blog traffic would drop. Visitors would exit in droves. The pressure on the sales side would mount and an alliance member would open their site back up to free entry. Through the entire experiment, the participating alliance members would lose traffic and never regain their respective impression levels. It's a bad nightmare.
If you are delivering content to a specific audience, there are three basic steps. First you need to listen based on a specific set of predetermined metrics such as customer service, you/your brand reputation (good or bad) or content delivery enhancement. There are plenty of free tools to help you accomplish this very important step. Secondly, you need to integrate the ideas and feedback that you have accumulated from passive online listening. Lastly, build trust through interaction. Answer and interact with the sites/blogs that pertain to you/your brand and energize your evangelists. Repeat, wash and rinse this cycle many times and avoid the EZ Pass model.

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