Micropayments for content

This post is by Seth Godin from Seth's Blog

This is a problem that comes up every year or two, but no one has implemented a useful solution yet.

Advertising is a surprisingly bad way for a culture to pay for content, because the kind of content that gets rewarded is often dumbed down for a large audience or is optimized for a small audience of people eager to buy something that makes a profit.

It’s also inefficient, as advertisers can’t know in advance what’s going to work, and creators get a very small share of the ad spend.

An alternative is to pay for what you get, the way we treat carrots, baseballs and clarinets. Instead of buying a baseball, though, you’re buying a chance to watch a video.

Micropayments are a system where you pay a penny or a nickel or a dollar for a piece of content.

It introduces two kinds of friction, though:

  1. There needs to be a tech system that can effectively move tiny amounts of money around.
  2. As a reader/consumer of content, you need to constantly make decisions about what’s “worth it.”

About thirty years ago, I described a simple solution to both problems:

For $25 you can buy a content passport. It’s available for purchase on any website that is part of the content network, and you need one to read the content on their site. The site that sells it to you gets $10 in commission for selling it to you.

It keeps track of every member site you visit (Read more...)