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Posts Tagged ‘free’

CASE STUDY:
Clickshare’s multiplatform, free/paid metered ‘paywall’ puts two Vermont dailies ahead of subscription plan

Posted on: February 4th, 2011 by wdensmore 1 Comment

By Bill Densmore

RUTLAND, Vt., Feb. 4, 2011 — Converting a formerly free news website to hybrid free and subscription service is judged an early success by the family owner of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus — and the ability of Clickshare to offer user-friendly, multi-platform registration, subscription, billing and access control is a key reason.

Paid online subscribers are above projections and reached the high-end of industry norms in less than four months, says Rob Mitchell, state editor of the combined-20,000-circulation dailies and the third-generation in the Mitchell’s family ownership of the two papers.

“As a subscription engine it’s worked out very well because it technically works very well,” Mitchell says of Clickshare.

Clickshare’s solution went live for the family’s customers on Oct. 1, and since then a total of 28,200 people have registered online for free, including readers from the Mitchell family’s four monthly regional business magazines (circulation about 40,000). “Some of them we would not have been able to connect with if it weren’t for this system,” says Mitchell, who heads the family’s online and mobile news delivery efforts.

Clickshare manages a single database for the papers and for four monthly business magazines operated by the Mitchell family as Vermont Community Media. The Clickshare technology handles one-account, one-ID, one-bill authentication and login of print subscribers and users on the web, mobile and soon-to-launch tablet applications. So readers and users can manage all access and billing from a single account.

“The business monthlies had never been integrated with our daily subscriptions,” says Mitchell. “Now they are, and this produces more activity for them online, and we can also market across all platforms.” In addition, the single sign on, single-account solution means Mitchell will be able to offer a variety of multiplatform subscription packages and bundles.

The family is following the emerging practice of a hybrid free-paid approach on the web.

Of the 28,200 registered users, about 7,500 are existing subscribers to the print dailies, who signed up to get free access to the newspaper’s web site. The other registrants have signed up for one of a variety of online and print packages, which may include some or all of the print newspaper, the web site, a new online e-Edition, and the mobile site.

Paid online subscribers are above projections, said Mitchell. He said his father, Publisher R. John Mitchell, had figured online paid subscribers would settle at around 2-3 percent of print circulation after a year. The actual number tracked after a little more than four months as 950 – already at 4.7 percent.

“My father surveyed the prices people were charging across the country and we basically took our print price and gave probably a 30-percent discount off that to make it attractive both to people who had discontinued their print subscription and to new subscribers,” says Mitchell.

The online annual subscription works out to $2.99 a week, says Mitchell. The minimum subscription length online – a month – works out to about $3.50 a week. A day pass – which Clickshare’s technology supports – is a dollar.

Mitchell says they’ll have to do some survey work to see how many of the 600 paying subscribers online are former print subscribers – they don’t know that yet. “A significant portion of them are either outside our print-delivery area or out of state,” says Mitchell. “That’s encouraging.”

As for print circulation and web advertising, Mitchell says: “We’re doing well. I think the paywall is helping us. I think we’ve benefited by being willing to take this step.” Mitchell thinks online advertisers will view registered and paid subscribers as more valuable than casual surfers. And, after three months of decline in web traffic – page views and daily visitors – the traffic trended back up in January, and showed an increase in online reader engagement.

“We will continue to market our online content as worth paying for, and do the newsgathering that will back up that promise,” Mitchell said. “And many of our readers have told us they are confident and happy that we are building a business model that will sustain our journalism well into the future.”

Norfolk, Va., daily adopts Clickshare technology to manage iPad subscriptions; Clickshare passes 3 million registered users

Posted on: December 13th, 2010 by Bill Densmore No Comments

AMHERST, Mass., Dec. 13, 2010 – Clickshare Service Corp., a provider of user registration, authentication, access control and e-commerce services, today announced that The Virginian-Pilot newspaper has selected Clickshare as the payments vendor for its iPad app. The Virginian-Pilot, the flagship newspaper of Landmark Media Enterprises, has already deployed the system, which enables payments to flow directly from consumers to the publisher, eliminating the current wait for Apple to enable content subscriptions through its iTunes store.

“The main reason that we’re doing this is to make The Pilot available to other mediums,” said Danielle Rodier, The Pilot’s circulation marketing manager. “It’s really important for us to diversify how we get information out to the public.”

The new iPad tablet app has several advantages over other payments and subscription management systems: By eliminating the wait for Apple to enable content subscriptions through its iTunes store, it also eliminates any fees Apple may charge in that service; and, it provides the publisher direct access to customer data.

Besides this new service, Clickshare has been providing its online subscription management solution to the Virginian-Pilot since March of 2008, controlling access to its digital edition (PilotOnline) under a “Freemium” approach which allows print subscribers free access to premium content while charging web-only customers. Expanding on that history, The Virginian-Pilot is one of the first daily newspapers to use Apple’s popular tablet computer/e-reader as a platform to deliver content.

In addition to Landmark Media Enterprises, Clickshare’s clients include The New York Times Company, Crain Communications, The McClatchy Company, A.H. Belo, Journal Register Company, Sun-Times Media, the Rutland Herald and a number of independently-owned newspapers along with other websites, magazines and government entities.

With the addition of the Virginian-Pilot, the combined circulation of Clickshare-serviced newspapers, magazines and trade publications has now passed the 2 million mark, including 1.3 million in daily newspaper circulation and 775,000 in trade publications. In all, Clickshare has surpassed the 3-million mark for registered accounts.

Mobilizing its service tools, and responding to the needs of its clients during the last 15 years, Clickshare has implemented and provided all of the various options being considered by daily newspapers currently exploring paid content solutions, including metered access, variable-term subscriptions, per-item or “daypass” pricing, and ecommerce payments for merchandise sales.

Ultimately, the company envisions sharing of news and other content within a network of affiliated Clickshare-enabled websites, providing free or reduced rate access to registered customers, while charging for access to non-customers.

Clickshare’s suite of paid content tools allows publishers to control access to content based on:

  • user type (including geographic location, device in use or the affiliations or known attributes of the user);
  • content type (including premium content, email services, commenting rights or viewing a preview rather than a full content item);
  • payment type (content can be sold by subscription or per click, charged per event, by hours, day, week, month or year); or
  • bundled packages (publishers can sell content in bundled packages which can include print, web, mobile or tablet services).

Clickshare has integrated with numerous content management solutions including Saxotech Online, Olive Software, Tecnavia, DTI, Handmark and Drupal.

In order to grow their businesses in the new Internet era, daily newspapers have been exploring paid various approaches to and requirements for content solutions, including metered access, variable-term subscriptions, per-item or “daypass” pricing, and ecommerce payments for merchandise sales. All these capabilities are included in the current Clickshare platform:

  • Metered access – allows access to specific number of pages with gradual messages leading to registration and payment requests. Clickshare allows publishers to establish all of the threshold variables and parameters.
  • Subscriptions for any type of term (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.)
  • IP-number-based access control — this is designed to allow global access in enterprise solutions such as master subscriptions for businesses or colleges.
  • Multi-seat subscriptions — this allows master and subsidiary accounts for enterprise or family solutions
  • Automatic renewal option for credit card payments
  • Daypass pricing, or other limited-duration access
  • Token pack — redeemable tokens for day or article access
  • Free trials — limited-duration free access for registered customers
  • Special pricing for different customer categories , such as print, geographic, etc.
  • Newspapers In Education (NIE) access
  • Voluntary payments or donations, or membership models
  • Event registration and e-commerce payments for merchandise sales

About Clickshare

Clickshare Service Corp., based in Amherst, Massachusetts, has been providing user registration, authentication, access control and e-commerce services to web and print publishers for more than 10 years, registering over 3.3 million accounts.  Clickshare was formed in 1997, raised $2.9 million in equity capital through 2001, and has operated on revenues since. Shareholders include the University of Massachusetts, venture investors, PeopleSoft founder David Duffield and former publishing executives of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Reader and Philadelphia Inquirer. More information on Clickshare may be found at:  www.clickshare.com.