Google moves to micropayments
Will do for the media what iTunes did for music - take its revenue?
Google is looking at adding a micropayments system to its Checkout payment system.
This emerged in a document sent to the Newspaper Association of America which sent requests to various companies to ask for suggestions as to how publishers could make more money from their online content.
Google said it would have micropayments in place within a year which would allow payments between a penny and several dollars. It promised integrating the service will be extremely simple for publishers and merchants.
The document makes clear that Google disagrees with Rupert Murdoch - it does not believe micropayments will be the real saviour of online journalism.
The document said: "While we believe that advertising will likely the remain the main source of revenue for most news content, a paid model can serve as an important source of additional revenue."
The search behemoth promises a "premium content ecosystem" will include the following:
* Single sign-on so users can access different media through one account
* Allowing publishers to bundle several titles into one subscription
* Allowing multiple payment options and the ability to easily include or exclude some content from paywalls
* Different tiers of access - so users could see snippets or first paras of content and "first look free" access
* Google also said it would offer "highly relevant ads for users, such as interest-based advertising"
The firm was vague on timing but it did say it would have easier merchant integration in place by early 2010 and guest checkout - paying for services without an account - in place by the fourth quarter of this year.
The Nieman Journalism Lab got hold of the document - you can see their take on it and the document on this page.
Google sent us the following:
The Newspaper Association of America asked Google to submit some ideas for how its members could use technology to generate more revenue from their digital content, and we shared some of those ideas in this proposal. It's consistent with Google's effort to help publishers reach bigger audiences, better engage their readers and make more money.
We have always said that publishers have full control over their content. If they decide to charge for it, we'll work with them to ensure that their content can be easily discovered if they want it to be.
As for Checkout, we don't have any specific new services to announce but we're always looking for ways to make payments online more efficient and user-friendly.
Something like this is sorely needed, yet talk of open standards and federation is notable by its absence here. Federation of the service, not only of the publishers.
Remember when Microsoft got booed for thinking of a vig on every internet transaction? Well I doubt even MS were brazen enough to think of 30%.
It would be better for consumers and publishers if the eventual dominant service model, which is itself a natural monopoly, allows for both competition and inter-operation between payment / collection service providers. But with micro-payments being a direct challenge to their core advertising business, this is more likely Google's spoiler for any alternatives that may be in the pipeline and/or an attempt to capture a nascent natural monopoly.
Alternative offerings could do worse than to study Wave's federation model. Build from open standards and out-Google G's own offering. If Google actually implements an open design themselves then I'd be pleased to eat the crow in my hat.
payments are doomed to failure, for 2 reasons - 1) the information will always be available elsewere for free for those who can be bothered to search. Or those who no someone who can copy and paste.. Unless you somehow manage 'free speech' and sue everyone... monitor everyones emails, instant messenger accounts...
2) Read about Nick Szabo - who concluded that all these (micro-payment) schemes are likely to fail, because although they minimise the economic costs of choices they still have all the cognitive costs. - so charging a price any price creates a mental barrier that most people want bother crossing. although this probably needs more research as to what percentage of people are put off by a price vs thos who read/try something for free because why not?
People should start working out how to monetise free in conjunction with paid, rather than it being one or the other.... since combining the two spans the full pyschology of consumerism.
Anon, obviously, as anyone who supports free is a communist enemy....
Google gets exclusive rights to books.
Google starts looking into micropayments.
Google... well, I'm sure you can fill in the blanks.