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.