Josh, I agree that there is no single solution. It will require what I call a "Heinz 57" approach where many different revenue streams will have to be used to generate enough money to fund professional journalism. This might be a combination of advertising, lead generation, subscription, and also possibly virtual currencies. Virtual cash could offer the best of both worlds, providing a surrogate micropayments system, and an advertising model that pays more than CPM ads.- Local businesses could provide wads of virtual currencies to online newspaper readers, either in exchange for something such as survey data, or as a complimentary service to build goodwill.- Businesses could also provide virtual cash that could be associated with reading specific sections in a newspaper, say furniture sellers to the "Home" section. Best Buy could provide virtual cash for reading the gadgets pages, etc.- News sites could reward readers with virtual cash for contributing user generated content, such as a popular column, or for photos.- Virtual cash could be exchanged between blogs and other online publishers for republishing great content. And there are a myriad other creative ways virtual cash could be used in news media.The beauty is that the virtual cash would be purchased from the news media publishers with cold, hard cash by businesses, instead of purchasing online ads. And the virtual cash then powers a dynamic economy within a news site that helps produce great content and provide other services. This engages readers.Compare that to an online ad that just sits there, usually unnoticed on the side of the page.Maybe Google could provide a platform that helps manage virtual cash across many sites?http://www.siliconvalleywatcher.com/mt/archives/2009/04/theres_real_gol.php
Josh,I agree with Tom that a virtual currency is the catalyst to change the game. Although there are many reasons for news and media business problems, the bottomline is economic. So an economic innovation is a good place to start. To innovate, a virtual currency should add a second dimension to market value. Since the internet is a 2 way communication medium, it makes it possible to credit contribution and debit consumption. I've brainstormed about this here: http://bit.ly/FqrZPFurthermore by relating the value of contribution credits to consumption debits, this new virtual currency would truly revolutionize the media/marketing industry by solving its core economic problem. The media/marketing industry has avoided the challenge of placing a value on and marketing "ideas" directly to consumers. Instead, it has thrived by selling the derivative value of "ideas": the value of the eyeballs attracted to advertisers, or, the value of access to "ideas" to consumers. I've discussed this here: http://bit.ly/5ope8RFinally, the timing is right to change the way we think about technology. It has been used to cut costs, primarily. It is time to start applying technology to create new value for people's lives and grow consumption: http://bit.ly/8nN7h7Will this create new problems and issues to deal with. Yes. But every time a problem is solved, it creates new value, the economy grows instead of shrinks.Katherine Warman Kern@comradity
I would like to turn your attention to Znak it! (www.znak-it.com), which is a digital content monetization and payment platform built around the idea of virtual currency -- the Znaks. We built this platform about two years ago as a solution for digital media and other online content providers in need of additional and/or sustainable sources of revenues (knowing that ad revenues are limited and can work well for only a handful of big playesr). Znak it! was presented at the 2008 and 2009 Web 2.0 Expos in San Francisco as well as the Digital Media Innovator's Summit in Berlin, and it was very well received both by the publishers as well as Web users as a truly universal, easy to use and very efficient way of generating online revenues. Depending on traffic, the sites that uses Znak it! can retain up to 94 cents out of each $1 of online revenues their content generates -- it is one of the best returns in the industry. Znak it! can work in tandem with online advertising as well as instead of it, as an alternative solution for those who cannot or prefer not to use ads. Because the Znaks are based in the Euro (1Znak = 0.01 EUR), the platform can be used worldwide, with almost any payment system, credits cards, PayPal and other APMs -- at no additional cost to the content provider. Our Znaks can be also used as credits or "tokens" within a social network environment to trade/exchange virtual goods and even real goods and services off the network -- as they do not require any personal IDs nor PIN codes. Once they are purchased or earned, the Znaks "carry" its full value and can be passed to another users at no cost, anonymously.As any such idea, Znak it! requires a certain critical mass to be effective, but so do credit cards, search engines, etc. Any large content provider or social network should be able to "start" Znak it! as its own or universal content monetization and payment platform without much effor. More, because the platform is already "out there," ready to be used, there is no need for huge investment nor integration work. I sincerely invite you to check out out platform It is so simple and yet so powerful -- simply, Znak it!
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