Would you pay for great content?

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Would you?  Would you pay a small amount of money if it meant content would get better, if it meant you would get more good content?  Would you reconsider the concept that content is free and ad supported?  What is the value you would place on a good article or video?  Do you want to support the authors and publishers who bring you that content?  I do, and I’m hoping I’m not alone.

I clicked on a news story yesterday because the headline intrigued me.  It turned out that the headline was incredibly misleading and the article was garbage, but I had already rewarded the author and publisher.  They got their page view.  They got their ad revenue.  Plenty of others will share that headline on Facebook and Twitter without even reading the article and it will go viral.  It will generate enough clicks to be profitable.  Horrible journalism will be rewarded and these parties will be funded to put out their next piece of muck.  I am left wondering.  “How can I make it more profitable to write good articles with good headlines?  How can I fund those who work hard to bring me good content, but don’t receive the rewards that sensational and misleading headlines and fluff pieces bring via ad revenue?”

I may have a solution, but it only works if there are others like me.  It only works if there are people who don’t just say they want better content, but will actually put their money where their mouth is.  When you read a great article or watch an amazing informative video, would you be willing to pay the provider of that content something, 5 cents, 20 cents, 1 dollar?  Would you be willing to pay them directly and buck this trend that content should be considered free?  Would you actually make this payment, or would you just hope that other people do so and fund the provider so that you can have better content and still have it for free?

Imagine for a moment that upon completing an article or a video, you had a little widget where you could simply type in the amount of money you would like to send, and poof, it was done.  You could send as much as you wanted or as little as one cent and you could know how that was divided between the author, publisher, and any other parties.  If you could actively support good content like this, would you?  Would enough people do this and pay enough that it would provide more value than ads?

Here’s a great video from C.G.P. Grey, one of my favorite YouTubers.  In addition to teaching you about YouTube ads, he provides the average video ad revenue on YouTube of one eighth of one cent per view.

He puts out a video every few weeks and the production value is high.  I’d happily pay him $1 per video if I could do so simply.  But, not everyone would pay and not everyone would pay that much.  Could we get 10% of his viewers to pay an average of 10 cents per video?  If so, that would be 1 cent per view, 8 times what a video earns on average from ads, and it doesn’t preclude him from showing ads as well.

My questions are designed for more than just provoking thought and discussion.  I’m product planning.  I run a digital currency service enabling user-to-user micro-transactions.  Our initial product focus is virtual reality, and we are growing as a commerce system for selling virtual goods.  We’re considering whether we should build what I described above.  We could provide a widget where a user could easily and quickly pay a content provider and we can allow micro-transactions below a cent.  Should we put in that effort?

We’d love to hear from you.  The next time you read a great article on Infinityleap which you’re about to share across all of your social networks because you so want that message to get out, would you consider throwing a quarter at the author?

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