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Technology & Innovation

How Much Is This Post Worth To You?

To keep revenues coming in, some content sites are experimenting with the micropayment model, in which the majority of a chosen article is made available only after the reader pays a small fee.

What’s the Latest Development?

Google is the latest company to offer a way for content sites to provide material to their users while not losing their financial shirts: A site using its Wallet system can reveal the first few paragraphs of an individual article and then offer to reveal the rest for a small fee (usually less than a dollar). Fortunately, if the reader wants their money back, they have 30 minutes to get an instant refund to their account. Oxford Reference is one of a small number of sites that are using this system.

What’s the Big Idea?

Most sites that charge for content set up a paywall, which tends to push readers away. News sites with lots of exclusive material┬ásee more success with paywalls, but journalism think tank director Charlie Beckett says other news sites aren’t as fortunate: “There’s a myth that people ever liked news. [It’s] entertaining – but it’s not as entertaining as a pop video.” There’s also the interaction cost, says usability expert Jakob Nielsen: “What is the extra hassle for the user?” He suggests that in order for micropayment systems to work, they must be as simple as turning on a light: “[I]mmediately it starts charging you. But you don’t have to log in to turn [it] on.”

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