Micropayments lower barriers to entry, helping publishers reach new audiences

We live in a culture of sharing: You don’t have to own a car to get around, or buy property to live well. This same effect has trickled into consumption of entertainment and even news. Why buy a DVD if you’ve got Netflix, or order a one-year print subscription if you’re subscribed to a newsletter that curates all the relevant news?

Faced with this sea change, it’s easy for publishers and content purveyors to despair over subscription losses. But people understand that the content they love consuming costs money, and they’re still willing to pay for it. The only difference is, how they’re willing to pay for it has changed.

Milliennials consume massive amounts of online media, and are driving major online trends—like the increase in mobile traffic and growth of streaming video. The good news is that millennials—contrary to popular opinion—do consume news—and plenty. 85% say keeping up with the news is important to them, and 69% consume news daily, per a study from the Media Insight Project.

More importantly, they’re paying for it—40% of millennials have personally paid for the news out-of-pocket. The question is, how do they prefer to pay for it?

For the answer, look to micropayments, which play a growing role in publishing. You may recognize micropayments from the entertainment industry: Why pay extra for all those channels you don’t like on cable when you can watch just the episode of a show you want for $2.99 via Apple or Amazon?

Micropayments are a clever way to target non-subscribers who are interested in your content but may not want a long-term subscription today. To determine whether micropayments suit your business, it’s key to analyze your user base. If your own all-access subscribers make up a less-than-desirable total of your earnings, you probably have a strong potential prospect base for micropayments. The non-subscribers or lower-tier subscribers can be targeted with a lower point of entry: Like a per-article rate.

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