As optimistic debates about journalism go, one which asks if people *ever* really paid for journalism, probably isn’t the question to kick things off with. Or is it?
While the debate about whether people would, should or could pay for news, one European publisher has gone about things a different way.
What do points make? Well, an alternative currency which encourages people to be loyal and return to your website more often, according to Gerold Riedmann, the managing director of RussMedia, a regional publisher in Austria.
It secured funding from Google’s Digital News Initiative to create a ‘currency for journalism’ which it has called the ‘landlepunkte.’
According to Gerold, speaking the at the Google DNI Funding Festival in Paris last week, as soon as a reader begins an article, they begin to accumulate landlepunkte.
Once they have acquired a certain number of points, they will be asked to register properly on the site to continue accruing points, which in turn gives RussMedia the chance to learn more about their readers.
So far, 18.4m points have been collected, with the average around 875 for every registered user, and 124 overall.
Crucially, the project has helped drive engagement — a key metric for publishers operating in regional media.
Data Gerold showed at the conference revealed that loyal readers signed up for the landlepunkte scheme view up to 30 more pages a month on average than loyal readers who aren’t signed up.
Bounce rate — the % of people leaving a site after a given story or page — has also dropped significantly.
Rewards for collecting landlepunkte, Gerold said, include branded merchandise such as mugs, or trial subscriptions of their local printed newspaper.
“It’s game theory to consume more media,” said Gerold. “Everyone collects points, and after a while we ask them to sign up to keep collecting points.
“It’s worth remembering that Facebook has 100% log in, so people are used to logging in.”
The company also sells this technology to partners. During the World Cup, users collected more than six billion points on a partner’s platform. It runs on websites as well as apps.