The following is a sponsored post from LaterPay.
More online publishers are considering diversifying their revenues, moving away from a reliance on advertising and boosting reader revenues. When it comes to reader revenues, there are a lot of solutions, from paywalls, subscriptions, memberships and more. LaterPay offers a unique flexible paywall that works across publications and lets users pay at a later date.
Hal Bailey, Chief Revenue Officer of LaterPay, helped explain what differentiates his solution and what trends he sees in digital media in this Q&A.
Can you start by giving us a quick overview of what LaterPay does?
LaterPay offers an extremely flexible paywall platform that enables publishers of all sizes to easily monetize their digital content and provides several different ways to generate revenues from readers – such as selling single articles, time passes or subscriptions. Our platform can be used as a hard paywall, like other solutions out there, but we also offer user-friendly options that are patented and unique to LaterPay.
Our “Pay Later” model sets us apart. It allows readers to access content with just one click and promise to pay for it later. We then aggregate their purchases across all publishers and only ask readers to register and pay once their “tab” crosses a $5 threshold. By leveraging the “Pay Later” approach, publishers have seen increases in subscriptions and revenues from both loyal and casual readers.
What trends are you seeing in the publishing industry, and what should local publishers take away from that?
I think that we have all seen and heard the same things over the past 12 months. Advertising revenue is decreasing across the board and direct revenue from readers is increasingly important. This, combined with the Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report, which reported that subscription fatigue may be setting in among readers, who would rather spend their limited budget on entertainment (i.e. Netflix, Spotify, etc.) rather than news, is causing consternation across the industry.
In our experience, however, we have found that if readers are given an easy way to buy the content that they like, then they’re more than happy to pay for it. In fact, some reports in Germany are saying that younger audiences are more willing to pay for news than older readers. Publishers of all sizes need to make sure that they are focusing on quality – offering the content and stories that their readers want, in the way they want them.
The key thing is to take a user-centric approach to this, making it as easy as possible for readers to access and pay for content. That means continuing to promote subscriptions as the gold standard, while also exploring ways to monetize 98% of readers who have no interest in ever subscribing but do have an interest in reading your content from time to time. Focus on offering ways to purchase content along terms that the reader wants, including low-friction models like selling individual articles or time passes to content.
Local publishers also have a great opportunity that they’re currently taking advantage of, namely engaging with – and being a part of – their communities. By their very nature, they have a unique opportunity to develop strong, direct connections with their readers and to build a loyal audience base. Every community is different, of course, and publishers are working out what is best for their area. I think the most successful are those who offer reporting that is ten times better than others on stories that matter to the community and that are an active participant in local events and happenings. In other words, they make sure that they are accessible to local readers, who believe the publisher is on their side.
What would you recommend that local publishers look for when it comes to building direct revenue?
As I mentioned just now, start by focusing on the reader. Make sure you understand what your readers value and factor that into your content. Just as advertising is rewarded based on pageviews, revenue is generated based on the value your content offers to the reader. That means no gimmicks, no cheap tricks – your readers will turn to what brings them real value, so think about your community and how to genuinely engage them as an audience.
Flexibility is absolutely key – you need to be able to be as versatile as possible when it comes to generating revenue. Explore ways to collect revenue from all of your readers – both your loyal subscribers and casual visitors who may just be interested in one article. That means selling content in a way that matches how your readers want to purchase that content. If they’re interested in individual stories, sell standalone articles. If they value the liberty to explore your content, offer time passes so that they can read more. If you offer some free content, consider collecting contributions.
On the back end, you should be looking at technology that is simple and easy, both to implement and to operate. Stay away from solutions that effectively force you to strip out your existing stack and install something completely new (that’s virtually incompatible with anything else) and instead go for an option that is either compatible with your platform or can run over the top of it.
And finally, look for a partner whose incentives are aligned with yours – a team that isn’t looking to get rich from integration costs, maintenance and licensing fees, but instead offers a model that means they succeed when you succeed. That can include revenue-share models, rather than up-front costs, but it can also include providing their own expertise and insights as well, diving in to help navigate the data and analytics to best optimize your strategy.
What does LaterPay bring to local publishers that can help them?
Through our “Pay Later” approach, LaterPay focuses on the reader and makes it as simple as possible for readers to buy or contribute to digital content. In this way we’re able to offer an effective, simple solution for converting casual readers into paying customers, while also putting them in control of what they do with their money. It’s all about reader trust and choice. Once a relationship has been established, readers can more easily be upsold to other revenue models, such as subscriptions.
We’re also ready to put our money where our mouth is. Our incentives are 100% aligned with our customers’ – there are no expensive up-front fees to start using LaterPay, giving very positive ROIs, and we operate a revenue-sharing model, whereby we only earn money once our customers do. We feel this gives us a very strong incentive to make sure any publisher who uses LaterPay succeeds and earns the maximum revenue.
Learn more about LaterPay here.