Just serve users the content they want, how they want it & they’ll pay for it.
5 years ago we started off with the simple idea of a running tab for digital content and called it LaterPay. The user gets served immediately, and pays later. To unlock an article sold using LaterPay, you just confirm you will “pay later” and you are done - without advance registration or advance payment. In selling content via LaterPay, content providers offer benefits to you as an user, which liberates you to consume, experience, fall in love first, and pay later.
And it works. Over 25% of people will pay for quality content when given the chance to do so easily. With LaterPay, we made it possible for users to buy what they wanted and only that.
Subscriptions are analog business models and kill digital innovation in the name of predictability.
Let’s take a look back at their roots. Historically, subscriptions were the best revenue to offer benefits to both, readers and publishers. The reader gained comfortable home-delivery and a discount on the newsstand price. The publisher benefited from a predictable stream of revenue. Subscribing to a newspaper was a necessity to get constant access to news and information– about your community, country, social happenings, and world. Subscriptions offered a predictability that allowed publishers to create and build upon stable revenue models.
“For the customer, it was simply not possible to buy page 3 and 5 from a newspaper and leave the rest at the newsstand.” — Richard Gutjahr, German Journalist
But the internet is all about cherry picking — and the internet turns every publisher’s website into a newsstand that offers individual pieces of content. In other words, digital access has forcibly unbundled traditional content models. Now users don’t understand why they are forced into subscriptions even though they may just want to read one or two articles at a time. Most content providers’ paywalls attempt to drive cold users to subscriptions, which feels as awkward as proposing marriage to a Tinder date before you’ve even gotten to know one another. It would be aggressive and overly committal.
Think beyond subscriptions. Think unbundled.
The first challenge for us was to answer: If content providers offer such strong benefits to users, will they actually pay for content? Yes. We’ve proven this for publishers who are brave enough to think beyond the subscription. The key has been to serve users content in the way *they* want it. After launching Pay per Use in the market and seeing its impact, we started wondering: is unbundled content access vs. subscription a black and white binary or rather, more of a relationship evolution track between the user and content provider? With that in mind, it’s powerful to note that up to 97% of online newspaper users never reach the paywall and simply ‘date’ the content provider in a non-committal way, casually engaging rather than subscribing. (Think Tinder not eHarmony!)
After we realized that it is not a binary, but rather a spectrum or funnel, we set out to develop features and products that would allow content providers to serve their users with different revenue models. Mirroring the natural ebb and flow of users’ content consumption appetite, we have found that the key is to allow toggling between the user’s need for more content (Flatrate/ Time Passes) or less content (Pay per Use).
Another product that emerged from our envisioning a seamless transition between purchasing individual articles with Pay Per Use and Time Passes, are the LaterPay Microsubscriptions.
Subscribe to a website for $0.50 cents / month and pay later.
Here is how microsubscriptions are different from traditional analog and digital subscriptions:
1. Microsubscriptions allow content providers to offer contextually targeted content, as they can sell sections individually.
Let’s say, you are interested in the sports section only. A microsubscription will give you unlimited access to your favorite content — that is, recurring, frictionless access to sports coverage, where you’re not paying for anything you don’t use. On the other hand, the content provider gets a more predictable revenue stream.
2. Microsubscriptions serve smaller content providers as well as large ones. They work for traditional publishers, bloggers, as well as other media content providers.
Your favorite fashion blogger posts useful ecommerce and retail reviews that save you money and give you daily outfit inspiration. Would you give her $0.50 cents per month for this unbiased, quality, unsponsored content?
3. Microsubscriptions add value, bringing more diversified high-quality content to users for less spend. For the price of a former subscription to one newspaper, you can now get access to many desired content sources.
With all of this in mind, we are excited to announce that LaterPay will soon be offering microsubscriptions. Our existing micropayment infrastructure facilitates recurring microsubscriptions economically, and with ease. LaterPay is all about empowering whatever works for our content providers and their users, from selling individual pieces of content to (micro)subscriptions.
To date, our user-centric mantra has been: ‘Use now and pay later.’ The exciting addition of microsubscription adds a new layer: ‘Subscribe now and pay later.’ LaterPay microsubscriptions are in internal beta right now with a small roster of our customers and will be available for all content providers later this quarter.
Now whether you’re a user seeking casual content consumption (think Tinder) or are a loyal recurring reader (think epic love), we’re proud to offer options that fulfill every content appetite.