New here and just stumbled over this very interesting thread.
I have been thinking for a couple of year about a way that the ad business, and revenue models for content production and curation needs to change. (And actively working in a direction that it will change)
IMO all existing approaches don’t work for their own reasons. What they share is that they are coming from an old thinking where we translate how print worked into the digital age.
Obvious why they don’t work. They put an incentive on quantity of content and shallow clicks, they drive the spread of emotional (mis)information instead of wisdom and useful information.
However we need to be aware that ads will always be around as they are a tool for the market to optimise distribution by making consumers aware of products and services. The question is if that stays the main income source of online outlets.
The good thing is that ads bring in money that neither the publisher, nor the consumer has to pay for.
They are a good start and it helped to validate that people are willing to pay for quality content. What makes the subscription model good is that it frees content providers from the necessity of optimising for clicks, but may be able to focus on producing quality content again.
However they effectively create a 2 tier consumer society where some people just won’t have access to this information. In my view it working somewhat against the purpose of journalism: to inform people.
From a user perspective they are also horrible. Most readers are not reading content from just one provider, so buying a subscription from every of their sources is a decision making overkill and frankly too time consuming. Paid news aggregators only ease that problem, they don’t solve it. What about all those little websites that are not big household names like the nytimes? How are they going to be funded if they are not included in something like Apple News or Blendl?
The really good thing was that a user can determine for themselves how much worth their media consumption overall is and distribute the funds to any provider, big and small. This make an approach inclusive to many different types of contributions and potential income to smaller bloggers too. A student might just be able to pay 5 bucks, a CEO 200 and so forth.
However approaches like Flattr didn’t work because the service required to find an audience that values journalism enough to sign up for such a new service. From a UX perspective practically unusable as it required users to manually press a button for each article they want to pay. Big decision paralysis and frankly too much effort.
So how could a new approach look like?
I think the inclusivity and user-centric flexibility of something like Flattr is the biggest step in the right direction I have seen so far. We’ve seen people like to pay, but we need to solve the UX issues that users have to decide who to give the money to.
This needs to happen automatically.
The question is how?
For doing so it would require having extensive data that can help to determine the usefulness/quality of content people see, and such a solution needs to be baked into another value proposition. It can’t be a standalone service like Flattr.
One of the outputs of the project we run is to provide that data and that service to build on.
At worldbrain we develop Memex, an open source tool to search your web history, annotate and collaborate with peers when doing web research. So you can search for websites, papers and social posts you’ve seen with the vague memories you have. Like “that article I visited last January with the words “climate change” in the text, it was on the nytimes.”
To make search possible the tool gathers data about how users interact with content. (e.g. how long did they stay, how far they scrolled, if shared/liked on social media, sent via email/messenger with (positive) sentiment)
All data is stored locally of course and no data will ever be sent anywhere without user consent.
Soon we will provide an API on which developers and entrepreneurs could build new tools with that data.
One of those could be a plugin that detects the the subjectively most useful content based on interaction data and automatically distributes the funds a user has allocated for their media consumption. This would IMO view solve the UX issues associated with current approaches to micropayments.
Brave has also been going into that direction and it seems to work pretty well. They still combine it with ads though, which is an OK step in-between but hopefully ads will not play such a big role anymore or the market has adjusted to only wanting to run ads on useful content.
For more information on Memex, check out this post: https://edgeryders.eu/t/introducing-oliver-worldbrain-io-memex-and-storex-democratising-knowledge/10157