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. 

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

4 reasons Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for universal basic income

In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.

(Photo by J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
  • The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
  • Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
Keep reading Show less

Why avoiding logical fallacies is an everyday superpower

10 of the most sandbagging, red-herring, and effective logical fallacies.

Photo credit: Miguel Henriques on Unsplash
Personal Growth
  • Many an otherwise-worthwhile argument has been derailed by logical fallacies.
  • Sometimes these fallacies are deliberate tricks, and sometimes just bad reasoning.
  • Avoiding these traps makes disgreeing so much better.
Keep reading Show less

Why I wear my life on my skin

For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.

  • In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
  • This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and objects that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
  • Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way."
Keep reading Show less