Friday, July 17, 2009

Media still pulling up the couch cushions to pay for web services

Probably not by coincidence, Media Bistro's morning news feed includes these stories (two from the web extensions of print media and two from web-only sources):

Google to Newspapers: Think We're Stealing From You? Fine, Don't Show Up in Searches!

Josh Cohen, senior business product manager for Google, has a message for newspapers: If you don't want your content to show up in search results and on Google News, it doesn't have to. In fact, newspaper developers can block Google's robots from crawling across their Web sites and gobbling up their content if they just insert a couple lines of code into their sites. […]

"Today, more than 25,000 news organizations across the globe make their content available in Google News and other web search engines," Mr. Cohen wrote. "They do so because they want their work to be found and read -- Google delivers more than a billion consumer visits to newspaper web sites each month."

Should YouTube Charge a Fee to Upload Video?

Gene Munster, the analyst with Piper Jaffray, put a report out Thursday looking at the finances of YouTube, and he makes a suggestion that I haven’t seen before: Google should charge a “nominal fee” to people to upload videos to YouTube if the video isn’t appropriate for advertising. [...]

Mr. Munster estimates that the cost of storage and streaming will be more than YouTube’s revenue, so it needs to find even more pennies in the couch. An important source, he argues, is all those people uploading videos of their babies’ first steps or clips of “South Park.” These are money-losers because no advertiser wants to put commercials on amateur videos, and Google can’t legally sell ads in pirated content.

How The Huffington Post Can Pay Its Bloggers

People are willing to write for The Huffington Post for free. I'm one of them. It's great exposure, the tone is unapologetically opinionated and if you've ever met Arianna Huffington you've noticed that she exudes a kind of warmth and authenticity that is rare for people at her level in the media world. But not only are people willing to write for Arianna for free, she is also willing to let us write for her for free, something an old guard institution like the New York Times won't even consider.

Yet as brilliant of a strategy as hiring legions of unpaid writers is, there is a catch. Eventually and, some would argue, already, the only writers that will write for free are writers that can afford to write for free.[…]

The Huffington Post's advertising revenue from January through April 2009 was $3.4 million. So let's round down and assume that ad revenue for the year is $10 million. I propose that The Huffington Post commit to spending 20% of its revenue rewarding bloggers. For 2009, this would be $2 million.

Not all bloggers will be rewarded. There are 4,000 bloggers that contribute to the site, and this structure only rewards those who contribute the most to the site's business and editorial goals.

Harvard UP to Sell 1,000 Books on Scribd

As the battered university press industry struggles with the recession, Harvard University Press has decided to sell 1,000 digital titles on the popular reading site as bookselling platform.

Titles range from the $68 digital version of "General Equilibrium, Overlapping Generations Models, and Optimal Growth Theory" to the 17.95 poetry collection, "Invectives." The press will post digital content alongside other university presses, including New York University Press and MIT Press.

Google, PayPal, and Amazon all figured out a way to engineer web-specific strategies to drive sales. (And of course, the cable and telcos, controlling access to the web, are able to extort considerable access fees.) But it's been quite a while since anyone had a major breakthrough in monetizing content (as they say about strategies to turn a buck for stuff on the web). Certainly the print news industry hasn't made much headway there. If they've made some daring leaps in the last year, it was born of necessity and even desperation.

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