When Google gave up on its One Pass paid content system last month, RR Donnelley’s Press+ strengthened its standing as the paid content platform of choice for a growing number of news publishers. However, with audience revenue models evolving rapidly, there’s still plenty of room for other paid content products to carve out a niche.
TinyPass is one of these players. The New York-based startup, founded in January 2011, has signed up about 20 publishers for its paid content platform, which it has dubbed "content access and monetization" software. The company’s current roster consists of independent, regional and other “long tail” content sites. But TinyPass is now courting larger media players and is hoping to announce a couple of significant customer deals soon, said David Restrepo, the company’s head of business development and strategy.
TinyPass offers a range of options for paid content. Publishers can sell access to an entire site or set prices on individual assets – a video, a downloadable file, or a web page, for example. Time-based and metered options are also available. The company’s self-service model lets publishers register online to download a plug-in for WordPress, Drupal or Joomla, or access an API for integration into other content management systems.
The flexibility of the platform lets publishers test a variety of models to find out what’s best for their audience, Restrepo said in a phone interview. TinyPass takes a percentage of revenue based on the volume of transactions.
Here are four ways small publishers are using TinyPass to generate audience revenue.
TinyPass lets DJ Booth generate some incremental revenue, but as importantly keeps visitors on the site. “We invest heavily in our editorial,” CEO Dave Macli said in a phone interview. “We don’t want to send our visitors off to iTunes to buy music.”
DJ Booth has been using TinyPass for about six months. While the site still generates about 90% of its revenue through advertising, Macli said he is pleased with the early returns from the premium content offerings. One album generated about $5,000 in revenue in one week – most of which goes to the artist. “Their cut was $4,000 – that’s great for an independent artist,” Macli said.
Conversions are “good,” Macli said, an indication that the process is easy for most buyers. Another ease of use factor: TinyPass handles the payments to the artists, which means DJ Booth doesn’t have to cut its own checks for the rev share.
Macli said he’s considering using TinyPass for individual songs and also expects to use it for premium content on a sister site, Audiomack.com.
WordPress Starters uses TinyPass to sell access to a series of on-demand video tutorials. The videos, which instruct users on how to use WordPress, are priced at $3.99 each.
Site owner Bob Dunn, a WordPress trainer and coach, has been using the TinyPass plug-in for a month and is “very happy” with the results. Dunn, with the critical eye of a WordPress consultant, said he was particularly impressed with the ease of the plug-in’s setup and implementation.
He plans to expand use of the software with additional content and products. “There are so many different ways that you can use TinyPass that I'm pretty excited about some future ideas that I have,” Dunn said in an email.
The Bigheart Times, a small weekly based in Barnsdall, Okla., has been using TinyPass for the past month for per-story and subscription pricing. Single articles are priced at 25 cents, with subscriptions offered monthly ($10), bi-annually ($25) or annually ($35). The company also offers weekly e-editions of the full paper for $1.
Publisher Louise Red Corn said the move from free to paid content online has been smooth. “We warned our readers that the paywall was coming and have heard very little and very mild whining about it,” she said in an email. The paper logged more than 70 sales through TinyPass in the first two weeks, including several annual subscriptions. A strong interest in purchases of individual articles, she added, was "somewhat unexpected."
The Chicago Phoenix, a website covering the LGBT community in Chicago, uses TinyPass for a metered paywall that activates after a visitor views 15 articles. Subscriptions are priced at $4 for monthly access, $21.60 for six months or $38.40 annually.