Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

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.”

Waco’s editor’s advice about online web subscriptions: “Just do it”

Posted on: January 19th, 2011 by wdensmore No Comments

Michele McLellan of the Knight Digital Media Center Q&A’d the editor at the Waco, Texas, daily, about their nuanced online subscription strategy. Print subscriptions are up; print subs get online free; many have registered to do so. Advice from Waco Herald-Tribune Editor, Carlos Sanchez: ” . . . [W]e had just as much positive response as negative . . . just do it.” Also: “Our strategy was to market this not as a paywall but as a premium for print subscribers.” LINK TO FULL STORY.

Clickshare’s dynamic pricing idea emerges as focus of Internet commerce

Posted on: December 19th, 2010 by Bill Densmore No Comments

Starting in 1994,  the founders of Clickshare Service Corp. developed a prototype for “dynamic pricing” for information commerce on the web.  Now, 17 years later, the idea is emerging as a central tenant of ecommerce. 

What is “dynamic pricing”?  The ability to vary the price for a digital good in real time, depending upon the attributes of the user or the type of use the user intends.

TIME-BASED VALUE

Take a news story, for example.   Suppose a news organization breaks a big story — “hot news.”  For the first few minutes the story is out on the web, it may have great value. But soon, because you can’t copyright facts, other news organizations will pick up the raw facts and remix them into their own stories. So the ability of the first news organization that broke the story to charge for it drops quickly to zero. Later, the story goes into archives, and researchers looking for the origins of the story might be willing again to pay more for it.

USE-BASED VALUE

Take the same story. The initial use is mass-market. But what if the story is about a topic of ongoing significance to researchers, or a topic which affects the value of investments, or moves markets? The mixing of that story with other information might add to its value. So a niche user might find it of more value than the casual, mass-market user.

The public-radio program “On the Media” covers the topic in a Dec. 17 interview with Slate online magazine reporter Annie Lowery.  Is dynamic pricing legal? Lowery says yes.  She says online retailers might use your browsing history, your purchase history and even your browser type to figure out what to charge.

Here’s Clickshare’s patent application in this area. The Center for the Digital Globe, at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism, is undertaking research on web content pricing in an environment where a content clearing house emerges.

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.

What’s a ‘paywall’? In Providence, Belo is experimenting

Posted on: November 30th, 2010 by Bill Densmore No Comments

What’s a ‘paywall’? In Providence, R.I., Belo Corp., is experimenting. Today, the ProjJo.com website is all free. The team at the Providence Journal, who’s parent signed a contract earlier this year to work with Clickshare Service Corp.’s solutions, is limiting the length and depth of the free content, PaidContent.org writes. And in both Rhode Island and the flagship Dallas Morning News, Belo expects to have tablet applications.  ProJo Publisher Howard Sutton wrote in a staff memo quoted by another publication: “Projo.com will remain a free Web site that emphasizes most of the content that our online audiences value highly. Meanwhile, we will be more discriminating and deliberate in how we disseminate our premium newspaper content.”  READ MORE.

TABLETS: Virginian-Pilot uses Clickshare for recurring app payments

Posted on: November 30th, 2010 by Bill Densmore No Comments

The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot is using Clickshare Service Corp. to accept direct payments and subscriptions for its iPad tablet application.  With the Clickshare solution, payments are executed within the app (via a web interface) and do not go through the Apple Store, although the free app is downloaded from Apple.  The implementation is managed by Danielle Ridier, the news organization’s circulation marketing manager.  READ MORE.

Worcester Telegram site access/payment plan flexible (Editor’s Weblog-Aug. 24, 2010)

Posted on: November 30th, 2010 by Bill Densmore No Comments

The Worcester [Mass.-USA] Telegram & Gazette’s new metered paywall is flexible, reports Poynter’s Bill Mitchell in an interesting analysis of the paper’s strategy. It announced on August 15 that it was to start charging online, offering readers 10 free articles a month before asking them to pay ($14.95 for a month or $1 a day). (by Emma Heald)  READ FULL STORY

Clickshare awarded patent for four-party content transactions

Posted on: November 19th, 2010 by Bill Densmore No Comments

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Clickshare Service Corp. was notified by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office that it received a patent relating to its technology for creating a federated network of Internet web sites.

Clickshare has developed a unique system that networks web sites, allowing consumers to use existing accounts with trusted providers, to make secure, privacy-protected, purchases from any web site within the network. Consumers can make purchases from hundreds of vending websites without providing credit card-information to each site, using Clickshare’s Digital Calling Card (TM) technology. The consumer’s financial information resides with their trusted provider and the Clickshare Network settles payments among providers and vendors.

U.S. Patent No. 7,324,972 was awarded Jan. 29, 2008 for a “System for Management of Transactions on a Network: Four or More Parties.”

“Our technology gives consumers control over who sees personal information while simplifying the process of purchasing music, video, games and text across social and business networks,” said Rick Lerner, CEO.

The Clickshare System supports many models including traditional purchasing, B-to-B applications such as tracking and payment for advertising click-throughs, reliable exchange of consumer information, federated authentication and management of loyalty programs.

Clickshare has been providing services such as subscription management, “per-click” purchasing, event ticket sales and online print subscription capture for the newspaper and media industries for over 10 years. Its clients include Crain Communications Inc., the New York Times Co. (at Worcester, Mass.), The Sun Times Newspaper Group (Chicago Sun-Times and other papers), The McClatchy Co., Journal Register Co., as well as government agencies.

Clickshare Service Corp. is a privately-owned company based in Amherst, Mass. For more information, see http://www.clickshare.com.  (413) 253-7800.

Contacts
For Clickshare:
Edward Bride, 413-442-7718
Ed@edbride-pr.com

Permalink: http://www.businesswire.com/news/google/20071016005246/en/Clickshare-Receives-Notice-Allowance-U.S.-Patent-Technology.

Chicago Sun-Times launches integrated web-print subscription platform

Posted on: November 19th, 2010 by Bill Densmore No Comments

  The Chicago Sun-Times, one of the largest U.S. dailies, launched a paid electronic edition that allows print customers unrestricted access using the subscription-management platform of Clickshare Service Corp. Clickshare also handles the web capture and processing of print subscriptions.

Clickshare is a leading provider of online subscription-management, card-processing and web access-control, serving the newspaper industry and B2B publications for over 10 years.

“We chose Clickshare for our electronic edition because we wanted to give our print customers the added benefit of our E-edition while increasing our paid circulation,” said John Cary, senior director of online operations for the Sun-Times. “Clickshare provides the best content-control solution in terms of simplicity and stability as well as flexibility for the long term.”

“The Sun-Times Newspaper Group is pursuing a series of innovations in serving multi-platform users which will set an example for the newspaper industry,” said Richard Lerner, Clickshare’s president. “We’re committed to enabling that innovation at the Sun-Times and its sister newspapers.”  (July 31, 2007) # # # #

Contacts:
Clickshare
Greg Smith, 413-458-7000 ext 102
gsmith@clickshare.com