Publisher ad revenues are in decline and digital publishing revenue fell by 3.7% year on year in the second quarter of 2019, according to the Association for Online Publishing and Deloitte's quarterly Digital Publishers Revenue Index. This has increased the pressure on publishers to diversify their revenue streams. Many publishers are attempting paywalls, but few are managing to convert audiences to paying customers, explained Mihai Ciucu, chief executive officer at Blink during Campaign's annual publishing summit in London.
"It is difficult to convince users to pay for a full subscription- there are many reasons that stop them from paying. They've enjoyed years of getting content for free, so it is a challenge to get them to go from not paying anything to a contract."
The solution? Remove the friction. "With a frictionless registration and payment method, people can start paying again for news" he said.
Blink believe they can get people excited about reading news again with their registration and payment solution launching in January 2020. Users can sign up with Blink, enter their payment details and be automatically logged in when they visit any of Blink's partner publications. They will be able to read by paying on a per-article basis or subscribing easily--without having to enter their details every time.
Blink are expected to bring much needed disruption to the publishing world - enabling publishers to create significant and sustainable revenue streams without polluting their site. For readers this means no more frustration as you hit paywall after paywall. You can read a specific article without the hassle of creating a new account or the commitment of a lengthy subscription.
Gideon Spanier, global head of media at Campaign asked Ciucu if he thinks digital publishers are likely to adopt the same ad-free model for paying customers such as Netflix or Spotify. "Maybe people were once incentivised to buy a magazine subscription for the extra benefits - not only for a cost discount but also free delivery and getting the content before non-subscribers. In the same way, publishers need to think about the extra benefits they're giving subscribers online - and give them more reasons to pay for content," Ciucu responded.
Members of the Campaign's Publishing Summit audience applauded Blink's product. One attendee said she felt frustrated by being met with a subscription paywall when she only wanted to read a single article. She welcomed a payment structure that would allow users to pay a small fee per article but queried how much it would cost and whether enough people would be willing to pay.
"How much each article costs is up to the publisher and their type of content - but we do feel that it should be an amount that people are psychologically comfortable with. Our research has told us that a lot of people are willing to pay and we're hopeful that that number of people will grow. People realise they want quality and ultimately quality has to be paid for,'" said Ciucu.