The Ten Dollar Standard in Online Content

The specter of $10 is lurking in the corners of the startup industry. The figure is common to two aspects of the website business. As I wrote about earlier, blog hosting sites like The Faster Times, The Awl and the late True/Slant pay their bloggers about $10 for each post—some sites pay less. Today, a business consulting company introduces a new $10 standard: the amount of money a website should bring in per user in order to make profit. The news comes out of Paid Content, a U.K. based site on the economics of publishing. The profit metric is called ‘average revenue per user’ or ARPU and it is meant to guide a company in determining who and how much to charge for access to its website. The two customers are users and advertisers, the user category being further divided into individual consumer and business client. While individual consumers are more difficult to charge, given both their more limited disposable income and ability to find equivalent content elsewhere, businesses that access the content of a given website do so, in principle, to benefit their business. This has been the justification for the modi operandi at The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, both of which put their content behind paywalls. When businesses see their use of content as an investment that will pay dividends, they are willing to fork over some do-re-mi. Presumably this was the thinking behind The Big Money, Slate’s short lived experiment with a business content website. And while it was not subscription based, or perhaps because it was not, the site was shut down due to profitability concerns.


ARPU perhaps tells a sad tale. As Paid Content notes, the ARPU of People Magazine was over $100 while that of a popular How-To site was under $1. Leaving questions about what is truly the opiate of the masses aside, ARPU remains an imperfect metric. Image if tomorrow only one person visited The New York Times website (probably it would be Thomas Friedman), the site’s ARPU would skyrocket. A similar case exists in real life: when the Times of London put its content behind a paywall, it lost 90% of its readership, its ARPU therefore going through the roof. As I’ve written, the logic of the Times’ argument seems sound: its advertisers want people who are willing to spend money on a product they value (unlike those do-it-yourselfers who aren’t interested in what a website has to sell them), but that doesn’t always translate into real-world success. In either case, ARPU will likely prove a useful, if limited indicator of a website’s viability. 

Ideology drives us apart. Neuroscience can bring us back together.

A guide to making difficult conversations possible—and peaceful—in an increasingly polarized nation.

Sponsored
  • How can we reach out to people on the other side of the divide? Get to know the other person as a human being before you get to know them as a set of tribal political beliefs, says Sarah Ruger. Don't launch straight into the difficult topics—connect on a more basic level first.
  • To bond, use icebreakers backed by neuroscience and psychology: Share a meal, watch some comedy, see awe-inspiring art, go on a tough hike together—sharing tribulation helps break down some of the mental barriers we have between us. Then, get down to talking, putting your humanity before your ideology.
  • The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations.

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Why a federal judge ordered White House to restore Jim Acosta's press badge

A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration likely violated the reporter's Fifth Amendment rights when it stripped his press credentials earlier this month.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta (R) returns to the White House with CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist after Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly ordered the White House to reinstate his press pass November 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. CNN has filed a lawsuit against the White House after Acosta's press pass was revoked after a dispute involving a news conference last week. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Acosta will be allowed to return to the White House on Friday.
  • The judge described the ruling as narrow, and didn't rule one way or the other on violations of the First Amendment.
  • The case is still open, and the administration may choose to appeal the ruling.
Keep reading Show less