Monday, September 14, 2009

ViewPass update

After the New York Times last week dubbed the ViewPass project “dormant,” a number of people have asked what happened to my proposal for an industry-owned solution to do a better job of monetizing newspaper web traffic. Here’s the answer:

ViewPass was proposed as a publisher-financed and -owned solution to monetize interactive audiences by encouraging registration across a broad variety of websites to gather an unprecedented level of accurate demographic and contextual readership data which would be used to auction advertising inventory at premium prices.

It was conceived to harness the most significant asset that publishers have – their aggregated audience of some 3.5 billion page views a month – to maximize the revenue they can earn online.

Where warranted, ViewPass also would enable micropayments, subscriptions and all sorts of other ways to charge for content, though it is questionable whether pay walls can succeed. Apparently half of newspaper publishers, as reported here, have the same concern.

When my business partner Ridgely C. Evers and I visited with senior newspaper executives over the summer, a number of them expressed great enthusiasm for ViewPass.

While several top newspaper executives said they would be happy to join the network, none of them to date has stepped forward to offer the financial support necessary to build and deploy the system. Absent support from the industry, of course, there is no way to build an industry-owned solution.

As I write this, representatives of most newspaper companies are meeting at the American Press Institute today – the latest in a series of such meetings that began in April – to discuss what to do about paid content. If they come to the conclusion that they want us to build ViewPass, we will. If they don't, we won't.

They have to want it as much as we do. Arguably, even more.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"None of them to date has stepped forward to offer the financial support necessary to build and deploy the system."

Seriously, does this surprise you in any way?

9:46 AM  
Anonymous c9894 said...

I suggested the same concept (with different methods) to colleagues, but no one supported the idea.

I fail to grasp the reluctance on the part of the industry. Online advertising is dirt cheap, because we currently don't understand how to leverage it effectively and remain tied to obsolete metrics.

The web has most of the high value demographics advertisers look for. Why not demonstrate that, and use the quality of your audience to boost the value of your advertising? This will not only save newspapers, but it'll bring some parity to online advertising in general, and restore some of the luster to old fashioned print ads that are currently viewed as too pricey compared to the undervalued digital alternatives.

12:39 PM  
Anonymous desire athow said...

Viewpass could become the equivalent of Hulu for newspaper. But what they REALLY need is a search engine own by newspapers.

3:14 PM  
Blogger Bradley J. Fikes said...

A search engine owned by newspapers? That's a laugh. The newspaper industry doesn't have the geekpower to build one, and if it did, the search engine would be hobbled by corporate mandates from bosses who don't understand search. Look at their failed efforts to beat craigslist.

6:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, but Hulu does not require a subscription, although several cable companies are desperately trying to make that happen.

And there is a search engine owned by newspapers:

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Mike ODonnell said...

Interestingly enough, I have been down this same path with newspapers and magazine publishers. iCopyright was originally conceived as a publisher-owned solution. It proved impossible to put together -- competing agendas, equity, governance, fear of anti-trust -- and a lot of other challenges. The way to do it is to estabish a separate company, but allow the investment arms of the publishers to participate in the financing, led by a tier-1 VC. I wish you luck. God knows the industry needs to do something.

5:53 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home