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Archive for the ‘paywall strategies’ Category

Clickshare awarded patent for system that could reduce need for central “big brother” databases or multiple user accounts

Posted on: December 10th, 2013 by wdensmore No Comments

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AMHERST, Mass., Dec. 10, 2013  – A Massachusetts company has patented a system that it says could reduce the need for large, central databases of user names and accounts – a key emerging privacy challenge – while also reducing the need for users to have to have multiple online accounts.

The U.S. Patent Office on Tuesday issued U.S. patent No. 8,606,719, “System for Management of Alternatively Priced Transactions on Network,” (PDF) to Clickshare Service Corp. The company already has a related patent for a “System for Management Payments on a Network – Four or More Parties,” and has been working on the service since at least 1997.

The key innovation, the company said, is a system which both authenticates users across multiple independent web services, and allows users to choose among multiple home-base registrars. The patent also describes methods for allowing the sharing of user preferences, and real-time, variable pricing of digital content.

“Our technology gives consumers control over who sees personal information, and creates the potential for publishers to conveniently share content and users across networks which permit variable pricing and service offerings,” said Richard Lerner, CEO.

The Amherst-based company provides online registration, subscription, access control and billing services for millions of customers of newspaper and other information-publishing websites.

In a key privacy aspect, the sharing system works when the consumer users are known to information-publishing websites — and the system itself — only by a unique number. Only the user’s chosen home base (required for account reconciliation) associates the number with a person, and even then, need not know which content the user purchases.

Under the system patented by Clickshare, a person can have an account at one website, and purchase information, manage identity information, and get paid for advertising viewing at multiple other websites without having to repeatedly register or pass around name or unique identity information.

Unlike services such as iTunes or Facebook Connect, users of a Clickshare system would be able to choose their “home base” yet have a single account that works at multiple sites without repeated registration.

”There has been no Internet-based customer management system for payments or demographic tracking which did not require the creation of a massive, central names database, raising difficult marketing, partnering and privacy issues,” says Bill Densmore, founder of Clickshare. “Clickshare’s patented approach leaves customer ownership distributed among participating partners, and can put significant privacy control in consumer hands.”

Clickshare said it continues to explore with its dozens of publishing clients applications for the technology.

The patent covers  a system which manages and controls user accounts, payments and anonymous access to Internet websites where there are four parties involved. The four parties are the consumer user, the consumer’s home-base website (where the consumer has an account and profile information), one or more information or service-vending websites where the consumer wishes to view or purchase, and a system website where the parties can authenticate, aggregate, transfer and share usage and billing data across the system. The new patent expands protection for the system first described by Clickshare in U.S. Patent No. 7,324,972 issue Jan. 29, 2008.

ABOUT CLICKSHARE

Clickshare has been providing services such as user registration, authentication, access control, subscription management, “per-click” purchasing, event ticket sales and online print subscription capture for the newspaper and media industries for over 10 years, registering over six million accounts.  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.

Some of Clickshare’s customers  include:

  • Boston Globe Media Partners (at Worcester, Mass.)
  • BH Media (Berkshire Hathaway) at The Omaha World-Herald
  • Sun-Times Media
  • Crain Communications Inc.

Clickshare was formed in 1997, is privately owned. It raised $2.9 million in initial 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.

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

On Jan. 29, 2008, Clickshare was awarded (http://tinyurl.com/2wtlpu) U.S. Patent No. 7,324,972 for “Managing transactions on a network: four or more parties.” (Initial announcement: http://tinyurl.com/2ukwj4) The patent covers Clickshare’s federated authentication, transaction and personalization news and advertising social network.

Two case studies: Metered, multiplatform subscriptions using Clickshare

Posted on: February 12th, 2012 by wdensmore No Comments

Two New England dailies provide case studies of how they are adding revenue after adding systems for metered subscription access to their websites in this recording of a New England Newspaper & Press Association (NENPA) panel. The Feb. 11, 2012 session in Boston opens with Richard Lerner, CEO of Clickshare Service Corp., and continues with John Winn Miller, publisher of the Concord (N.H.) Monitor and Gary Farrugia, CEO and publisher of The Day, of New London, Conn.   Download the MP3 podcast to listen to the discussion and follow along with the presentation links below, courtesy of NENPA. (70MB, 1 hour, 12 mins.) Farrugia’s presentation broadly covers the paper’s strategy for becoming a digital-data media service for the region’s businesses and citizens.

New London [Conn.] Day launches Clickshare-powered multiplatform subscription service with “passport” to discounts

Posted on: September 14th, 2011 by Bill Densmore No Comments

The Day, of New London, Conn.,  went live with a multi-platform print and digital subscription service and membership program powered by Clickshare Service Corp. The new membership program offers unlimited access to its website, theday.com, including its premium online and mobile content.

“We take great pride in the quality journalism we provide to the communities we serve. We’ve spent nearly a decade building and establishing theday.com as a brand. That’s what is driving us to put a price on our growing digital platform,” said Gary Farrugia, The Day’s publisher.

The membership program, which ranges in price per month from $9.99 to $22.99 for top-of-the-line Platinum service, will begin on Wednesday, September 14. Current home delivery subscribers to The Day are automatically members in the new program once they complete their registration at theday.com. Non-member visitors to theday.com will be allowed up to 10 “premium” staff-written articles or features each month. Only members will be allowed commenting privileges on stories at theday.com.

As part of the new membership model, The Day also introduced a new members-only rewards program, The Day Passport, which includes rewards, events, and giveaways to local businesses, entertainment venues, and cultural institutions.

“We are shifting from an address-based print subscription model to a user-based content access model, whereby those who join will enjoy our award-winning products in all the forms that we publish them, as well as additional benefits and privileges,” said Daniel L. Williams, Director of Audience Development.

The Day’s introduction was covered by News & Technology  and by Poynter.com.

Emedia Vitals post recounts Concord Monitor “metered” experience

Posted on: September 2nd, 2011 by Bill Densmore No Comments

Writer Ellie Behling of the website emedia vitals posted a wrapup describing how four different U.S. dailies are using metered-access subscription systems on their websites. One of them featured in the Aug. 30, 2011 post was the Concord (N.H.) Monitor, a Clickshare client.


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Quoting from the post:

“John Winn Miller, publisher of The Concord Monitor, which launched a metered paywall in May, also found it was important to look for the best practices from what other papers wrere doing and be rigorous about having data for every opinion.

“It might sound obvious, but it can’t be overlooked: Publishers have to offer readers something worth paying for before they even think about putting up a paywall.

“The Concord Monitor, for instance, rolled out a complete redesign of its website shortly before the paywall, focusing on a more usable design and better local content. The paper also only puts local copy behind the paywall, since readers can’t get that type of content elsewhere.

“Miller noted that he was initially wary about reader acceptance of a paywall; after all, the statewide newspaper the Monitor competes with isn’t behind a paywall. ‘Typically if you’re in a competitive market you’re afraid to do anything,’ he said. Largely because of the newspaper’s research and preparation, the Monitor went forward with the paywall and the newspaper is enjoying a year-over-year online revenue boost.

Reports from the front: Three mid-sized papers describe their experience

Posted on: May 29th, 2011 by wdensmore No Comments

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Executives of three mid-sized papers offered field reports on charging for online content during a session at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) at the Missouri School of Journalism. The April 26, 2011 session — involving papers in Missouri, Georgia and Oklahoma — is now archived as a video stream at the RJI website. In addition, Nieman Lab blog reporter Justin Ellis was in Columbia for the sessions and he’s written a summary, with links.  The video is on a page with more than 15 other video frames. Click on the main page, then scroll down to the No. 11 frame to launch and watch the session, entitled: “Reports from the Field on Paid Content.”
The papers covered are the Columbia [Mo.] Tribune, the Augusta [Ga.] Chronicle, and the Tulsa [Okla.] World.

Parsing Apple’s policy on in-app iPad subscriptions — see blog

Posted on: February 15th, 2011 by wdensmore No Comments

For months, news publishers have been debating whether Apple will allow them to maintain their subscriber account relationships when the publishers start launching “apps” which run on the iPad. Today Apple spoke in what seems to be fairly clear language. For details, read Bill Densmore’s opinion on the Clickshare user blog.

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.

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.

Cable-model analogy to Clickshare cited in PEJ annual report

Posted on: March 17th, 2010 by Bill Densmore No Comments

The online section of the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism annual report on the U.S. news media, out March 16, 2010, included a reference to Clickshare. Scroll down to the “Micropayments” section:  

“Another discussed revenue stream has been the kind of subscriber access-fee that exists for cable. Cable news networks receive about half of their revenues from fees per subscriber charged to the cable service providers. These providers then pass that fee along to the consumer on their monthly cable bills. A similar model could potentially be implemented on the Internet, where fees are built into the internet access charge that users already pay. The idea remains hypothetical at this point, though, and there would be large hurdles to implementing it.  One hurdle is that content providers would have to band together to lobby the broadband internet providers (Comcast, Verizon, etc.) to get a cut of the revenue the ISP’s get from broadband fees. Another is a myriad of legal issues that would need to be addressed involving the control of information.  In 2008, Clickshare Service Corp. received a patent  on a system for managing information transactions on the web and the company, which has been serving newspaper and other clients for more than a decade, believes it can implement a service in which consumers have an account at one service (such as a news, cable or Internet service provider site, and can be periodically billed for access to information from a plethora of other affiliated content sites.

The next section, reporting on surveyed attitudes on paying for content, also includes a reference to “microaccounting.”

“There is evidence that some kind of flat fee — a networked microaccounting system rather than a pay-per-click system — might have better success in marketplace. We asked people if they had to pay for content from their favorite site, would they prefer a subscription that would allow them to access all the content from the site or a pay-as-you-go plan where they would pay only for the articles and features they wanted to see. A substantial majority of those with a favorite site (54%) opted for the subscription model while less than half as many (24%) picked the a-la-carte option. (Footnote No. 3, below)

“One technical and business challenge here is this: If people want to pay by subscription, but information is increasingly disaggregated across the web — then how could they do so without having to have multiple, confusing, subscription relationships?”

Footnote No. 3 reads:

“3. Those with annual incomes of $75,000 or more are only slightly more likely to favor a subscription plan, while the lowest-income respondents (those earning less than $30,000 annually) are more likely to prefer a pay-as-you-go-plan.”