Christian Panson, vice president of digital at the Winnipeg Free Press, recently conducted an interview with Marketing Magazine offering insights in to the daily paper’s attempt to develop a payment plan that would attract online readers while generating new digital revenues. The resulting micropayment system, which launched in May 2015, allows readers to access online content at an affordable rate (27 cents per article) with a money-back guarantee on all content.
Panson explains that Free Press readers tend to fall into three categories: “one-and-done users” who arrive to the site from external sources such as Facebook to read a single article; “return readers” who read content sporadically without surpassing 10 articles a month, and “super-engaged” readers who access up to hundreds of articles each month. As such, the newspaper developed payment solutions that address each audience segment, with the read-now-pay-later micropayment option tailored to the occasional readers.
Just over year into the launch, more than 4,400 readers have registered for the pay-per-view plan, and about 15 percent of those users have been successfully converted to full subscribers. The Free Press earns about $8,000 a month from its micropayment plan, with an average user spending somewhere between $2 and $3 a month. “It’s not at all material to anybody here in our finance department, it would have to quadruple before it becomes material,” says Panson. “But it’s a psychological thing.”