People will pay for content if…

It is necessary, irreplaceable, and valuable to them. There is a surplus of information due to the movement of eyes, from analog to digital, and from this arises a problem of competition, NOT digitization. Putting up a pay wall just serves the purpose of inhibiting the use of the content and rewards disloyal users while aggravating loyal ones.

Again, in trying to find a plausible solution to the current media environment, too much time has been spent trying to solve the content problem. Content is not the problem! It does not matter. Its days as king are over. What matters today, are insights and services, which translate into added value. Provide users with easily accessible, broad content on a topic of interested. To take it further, add value to that content by adding thought leader opinion, from an expert source in the field, and users may well shell out cash. This fact however, can be capitalized on.

If content providers can give users access to thought leaders or people whose inputs will add value to the content, they will pay for it. Imagine a system where you hire an expert, (an expert being someone who satisfies the 10,000 hour rule) or thought leader, and a subscriber types in a keyword of interest to them on his field. His job is then to write a response to that query and that not only provides an answer to that subscriber, but can also be used as content for other subscribers as well. Not only is the subscribers input necessary now, making them feel like important and valued customers, but it also adds a value layer to the content in what is considered web 3.0.

Advertisers also need to play their role and add value to content. No longer should they just push out their messages, just to try and get people to act; but they should find a way to add value to it. It is important to keep in mind that there is no quick fix, these things will take time and require a learning process. Relevance and profits will be achieved through interaction and value exchange and not simply where you rank on the page. Allowing readers to share your content, turns them into a marketing tool for you, increasing the reach of your content and allowing you to amass new readers.

The task is not to find a monetary value for content or information. It is rather to discover, whether there is a perceived value proposition and whether this proposition is perceived as being fair. Good business practice knows it is better to under promise and over deliver, than to over promise and under deliver. In this case, it is better to charge less and deliver more. This will increase the perceived value of the content, which will increase the amount people are willing to pay for it. This, coupled with the fact that the variable cost of attaining new audience members is low, allows you to attain more income.

As mentioned in a previous post, there is no one single solution. It is up to those in charge to realize that, each market is different and as a result, the solution will differ depending on which market is being examined. We are no longer dealing with a market of masses. If we are moving away from a mass marketing model, to a more individuated one, why should we believe that a mass approach to a business model will work?

Even if the content is free, people are willing to pay for services linked to content such as insight, analysis, uniqueness, if it is something of interest to them personally or professionally. (See Technology is King) Another value layer arises in the fact that we face an ‘information overload’, which makes sorting out relevant and trustable information time consuming. People are more than capable of searching for free content, and bypassing pay walls, even though it is time consuming, costly and does not always return results. This is attributed to the fact, that people read things, because they want to, not because they need to. They are also overwhelmed everyday, by a stream of information coming their way, so much of which, seems vital yet they can only digest a relatively small amount. Companies that offer individuated, or personalized information can realize added revenue from offering their services.

In today’s media landscape, we are all publishers or citizen journalists – but not all journalists are created equal. As the noise level rises on the Internet, people might pay for content from a trusted source, if that includes a guarantee of accuracy, veracity and relevance. We will start to consume news as a value added to a core service. That core service is information.

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