After reading Geoffrey Graybeal & James Hayes’ paper, All The News That’s Fit To Pay For Online:The Case for a Modified News Micropayment Model on the Social Web, a concept was spawned here at Carrot. Graybeal & Hayes outlined a sharing based rewards system (what they call microearn) that would be a pivotal aspect for any paid online news content model to succeed and thus Micro-Syndication was born. The authors of this paper laid the foundation for the concept and we put our brains together to make it happen.
Today’s web culture is all about personalization, social interaction, and sharing. People are constantly posting links on their social media pages, sending information, articles, or music to friends, and so on. Of course the vast majority of this is free content and even when it is payment protected the person sending the link is getting nothing out of it other than the satisfaction they may provide their friends. In fact many people rely on the advice of a certain friend for much of their news, always checking their friend’s profile to see what links he has posted. We call these sharers, sifters, because they read through news content, discarding the unimportant or not so great, finally choosing the best stories to share with their friends. Sure everyone shares articles when they’re free, but when charging for news content, who’s to say these sifters will continue to share pay walled content with their friends?
So when charging for news content online, why not provide financial reward for those who share the link to one of your articles? Sifters could earn a commission off of their referrals. For example sifters could receive a referral reward of $0.01 every time someone they refer buys a $0.12 article. Surely such a tactic would cause revenues to steeply climb as it increases the news publisher’s sales staff drastically. Now essentially anyone can become a paid promoter for a news site and all of its stories.
Here is a brief very non-technical look at how Micro-Syndication works:
A Micro-Syndication button is added to all of an online news provider’s pay wall protected articles. A sifter comes along and pays to read an article. If the sifter chooses to share the article they simply click the Micro-Syndication button which prompts a new page or pop-up on the news publisher’s site. The sifter enters their CarrotPay Merchant ID and optionally their name, email, etc. The site will then return a customized link or file for distribution. Each time someone clicks through using the sifter’s link or file to purchase an article, a percentage of the sale goes directly to the sifter’s CarrotPay account as CarrotPay Buy Buttons can easily facilitate split payments.
The beauty of Micro-Syndication is that it can be used not only for news articles, but for any shared online content. Websites could use Micro-Syndication to promote any type of product (music, images, games, etc.). It is very easy to do, provides incentive for people to promote your goods, and sharing is already a very common practice that internet users are in the habit of doing.
So what do you think, is this a model that could work? Would you become a sifter and use Micro-Syndication? Let us know your thoughts.