M-payments, micro payments: an opportunity for media
Posted By: Mark Challinor
Having spoken on behalf of the print media industry earlier this month at the m-payment summit in London, I am returning to this important subject today in this blog post.
Readers today consume content anytime and anywhere, and the plethora of ways to do so grows by the minute. But let’s take a long view for a minute. Let’s look at the landscape they find themselves in.
The coming Internet of Things makes it a truly connected world 24/7, where we are now identified by geolocation or an IP address.
In fact, one to “watch,” so to speak, is what do we all do regarding wearables? There are many implications here for print media, mainly in engagement terms (alerts, headlines, etc.) – and then monetisation down the road sometime.
The only monetisation of such I am aware of thus far in print media around wearables is The Washington Post having Infiniti cars sponsoring its alerts. These are very early days, but I am interested in seeing how the whole mobile wallet develops in this space. M-coupons are starting to making some traction in the United States currently – bar codes on watch screens that are used in the EPOS systems in stores, etc.
News media companies realise the role interactive technologies are now playing … and that they will continue to play a big part in future business models. The trick, though, is how to monetise this new world. As print revenues decline, digital monies are not replacing them fully yet.
Mobile, for example, is seen by many as an add-on and not the premium channel it deserves to be. News media companies reach more people today than ever – through largely a print + digital offering/portfolio.
I could argue that we deserve better.
More creativity abounds now – more investment in trying new ideas, better structures, etc., with road maps, customisation, and creative advertising solutions across platforms. These all add to the mix.
And then there is data! The future winners, according to Enders Analysis, are those who have a firm grip on their audiences and where they are going … using data. That’s why many media companies are seeing data as the Holy Grail, capturing, manipulating, and exploiting their data now in this new era of Big Data.
When adding first-party data (via competitions, subscriptions, etc.) to the market and industry data that’s available freely, a powerful picture can emerge that’s attractive to advertisers.
So, it’s all simple, isn’t it?
Well, not quite. But news media is getting there. There is still much to learn, get right, and understand. And a significant piece of the jigsaw puzzle, I believe, is in the area of direct payment solutions (that is, charging for content direct to the user’s mobile phone bill).
So, where does mobile payment technology fit in?
News media are focused on developing mobile products more than anything else. But a whole range of technology companies (app stores, operators, payment companies such as Barclaycard and Visa, etc.) are going to have a big impact on how publishers make money. We are still on first base!
For instance, would giving readers the option to pay for media content through mobile phone operators give a boost to circulation sales? If someone goes into a shop and buys a carton of milk, it feels wrong to put it on your plastic card. The same could be said of picking up a daily newspaper.
Consider the logic: There are more people with mobile phones than credit cards in the world, so mobile billing could be a way to increase sales. The potential is most definitely there.
It could be argued that app stores and a whole new breed of apps (such as Uber and OpenTable – just two of many) are already doing a decent job of taking much of the pain and hassle out of paying for stuff and content on mobile. No terminals need to transact.
But for “non-app” sales, or for reaching consumers without a credit card or those who don’t want to use one, it could be a good way of tapping into users who don’t yet pay for things with a mobile device.
I feel that what’s needed is an education exercise from the tele-media industry to publishers to iron out the trust and fear factors – assuring them there is no risk – and explain of the benefits.
Another hot topic is whether or not this new way to pay would help users make mobile advertising payments. Near field communications (NFC) (now, for instance, on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus) allows mobile users to pay for items simply by tapping bank cards on payment points.
This surely has big potential. If NFC payments do really take off, it could provide an interesting and powerful new way to track the impact of advertising on a range of purchases, particularly at point of sale.
This element has been missing for advertisers thus far, and news media companies, as “trusted” brands at the very heart of buying decisions, could be well placed to take advantage of new developments and efficiencies in the mobile retail process. Think of the e- and m-commerce and brand extension opportunities.
Education, again, is and will be key. There is still not enough knowledge (and a fear of the unknown) in media businesses and their agencies and advertisers, which keeps this from being fully explored and ultimately exploited. Curiosity is there, but perhaps there is not enough to take that curiosity to the next stage without help.
That was the message I took to the m-payments summit. Now let’s see if they listened!
One reason media businesses such as newspapers have struggled to charge for content is because they need to charge either all (i.e. pay the entire subscription fee for all the content) or nothing (which sometimes, for some of the not-so-smart-organisations, then results in many ugly, non-targeted banner ads and pop-ups everywhere).
All of the sudden, with m-payments, there is an economically viable way to charge arbitrarily small amounts of money per article, section, hour, video play, archive access, or maybe even news alert.
If micro-payments take off, then I can begin to see interesting possibilities. Media companies may start paying commenters for their input. Imagine a comment post that passes a certain number of votes, receiving a tiny fee. Maybe powerful celebrities will retweet a news brand’s promotional football tweets, thus receiving a fee linked to the number of people reached.
A Swedish payment company thinks it can “save newspapers.” Their words. That claim caught my eye of course. But there is something interesting here.
In the UK, many newspapers see circulation numbers declining when only charging less than a cup of coffee on cover price. But, payment company Klarna thinks it has built a tool that can help ease newspapers’ transition to digital, and they feel it could ultimately save the industry. Indeed!
The company thinks its one-click payments could revolutionise the way we consume media online and on mobile. It built the business around the idea of shifting payments until after you’ve bought something online, rather than before. It basically lets any retailer put the equivalent of Amazon’s “buy with one click” button on its site. Click the Klarna button, then input your e-mail address and post code. That’s it. You’ve bought your item.
The buyer then gets an e-mail asking him to fill in payment and delivery details. This method radically improves conversion rates’ – the percentage of people who actually follow through with a purchase after looking or putting it in their shopping basket.
The technology remembers your computer, smartphone, or tablet, meaning you only have to fill in payment details once. Next time you go to any enabled site, you can literally buy with one click. This has turned into a billion-dollar idea for Klarna and maybe a nuance that the direct billing industry in general might want to consider.
It has now started working with Bonnier AB, the Nordic media giant, to offer customers an easier and simpler way of accessing articles. Browsers visiting Bonnier sites can pay €1 for a day pass with one click and will soon be able to alternatively buy individual articles for small sums.
The company isn’t the first to try this. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and News UK here in London have all recently partnered with Dutch start-up Blendle to offer micro-payments for articles. It incidentally just entered the German newspaper market on June 15.
Blendle says: “Lots of people have tried to do micro-payments but they all require you to download an app or sign up first. People don’t want to do that. If people see this complex subscription sign up, people will just go somewhere else, but if you can provide them with an instant ‘buy this article for 10p,’ they'd do it.”
Or, what if a writer programmes the ability for only 1,000 people to read a story, with the price for reading it increasing by say, one penny with each additional reader? Alternately, what if the writer of a story was willing to share a certain amount of royalty with fans who were willing to annotate and enrich the story with context, background, and trivia?
Today, the mechanisms to enable the above all involve significant programming effort and friction. But in the near future, a simple-to-use and understandable mobile payment mechanism can remove friction and make consumption, paying, and revenue-sharing all happen in the background.
Other options are:
On the surface, the model sounds “interesting,” but some think it might be leading publishers down the same path to pennies the music industry slid down nearly a decade ago if used in the same way.
It didn’t work for music (streaming music is cannibalising song downloads a la Spotify), it didn’t work for video, and it especially won’t work for news if the shelf life of an article has much less value to consumers than the evergreen media (i.e. those songs and movies) they consume multiple times.
That’s why, for instance, many journalists today are reportedly told to write articles without a date stamp if possible, to give the content more shelf life and “resurrectable” opportunities.
Many people are no longer interested in paying per tune or DVD; they are more interested in paying for a license to listen to any song or watch any movie on any device. The same might be true for certain media, which brings us to what could be called …
This is indeed happening now, granted, more quickly for some than others, but it’s certainly starting to happen. Then the users see the added value and are more receptive to commercial offerings.
In many ways, I accept that, to some degree, what we are all doing here is looking at the Internet as if it was the mid-1990s and trying to predict the emergence of Facebook or Google. In the same vein, to say here in the early days of m-payments and visualise all the dominant companies and uses that are likely to emerge is, in fact, next to impossible.
What is important, though, is to drive this as a two-way street.
From the payment industry: You need education, education, education related to all things noted on your screen. Make it feel like a seamless experience for publishers and agencies to adopt, a new revenue source – this is a no brainer!
From the publishers and advertisers: Get closer, provide TLC, show a more personalised service to your audiences, enrich what you offer to your audiences, let them see the value – the value of spending time and/or money with you.
Embrace new digital, new creative ways to engage audiences. The latest creative advertising formats, for instance, can enhance the experience. Then, you can start to offer new payment methods effectively that are appreciated, not despised.
All this can happen quickly, too. We are at first base, indeed, but we can score a home run in a matter of weeks and months, not years.
There are highly skeptical audiences out there. I know from working inside The Telegraph in London when a paywall was introduced how tricky it can be to monetise audiences.
But be relevant, be contextual, be adaptive, and be closer than you’ve ever been. The rewards with monetising those audiences through payment solutions will get a whole lot easier.
Posted By: Mark Challinor
Posted Date: March 2016
The development of real-time location technology such as iBeacons is growing quickly and has important implications for publishers.
Not surprisingly perhaps, Apple was the first to launch with the Apple iBeacon. Soon after, Samsung launched its “proximity” service as the “mobile marketing platform that connects consumers in places via context-aware technology.”
The potential of this technology is fairly limitless, but it’s made mainly for retail sales. That’s important for publishers as many of their advertisers are indeed retailers.
If we are to offer creative, bespoke advertising solutions in the future based on Big Data extrapolation, we need to look at what location technology can offer for us so we can offer it in turn to advertisers. We also need to be able to use it and collect valuable data from events we organise ourselves.
So, to understand the technology here, imagine you are in a major department store to purchase a coat. If the department store used location technology via in-store transmitters, upon arrival, the store could tell you not only what coats are currently available, but also what gloves might match and where they can be found in the store.
It might also send you a discount coupon that could be redeemed for 20% off for the next hour, for example, to encourage a purchase.
Up-selling in store no longer needs to be done by the sales people on the ground, because it can be done via a smartphone in the palm of your hand.
Now, imagine offering this service to an advertiser. They would probably bite your hand off for it. Is this a service you can add to a creative solutions package?
The development of this type of technology is making way for a new breed of thinking, driving really effective and collaborative partnerships that want (and deliver) a much deeper understanding of consumer behaviour and engagement.
This potential need not only be applied to department stores, but also within sports stadia, summer music festivals, museums, expos, conferences, and, of course, publisher events allowing sponsors and organisers to influence and engage with their audiences at a level never seen before.
Additionally, this is an opportunity to collect data based on the behaviour witnessed.
The data angle of this technology is requires understanding the actual information location technology generates. Rewarding loyal, frequent customers with bespoke awards offers brands an extended and real asset to target and communicate to specific demographics whether by age, social profile etc.
For example, a relationship with a news media organisation may provide a discount off a subscription to the local newspaper redeemable at a news kiosk in store or a free trial copy of today’s publication.
And of course, the rise (and continued rise!) of the smartphone phenomena makes it all the much easier and, well, smarter!
News media organisations need to take greater ownership in the events and advertiser solutions they support and offer. Data gleaned leads to greater insight into the future and better commercial solutions that ultimately drive sales of both advertisers’ and publishers’ products and services.
This is what is beginning to excite many senior-level marketers round the world today.
We can learn from those marketers who are driven by media content because they know it works for them. However, our own creative solutions shouldn’t be restricted by this alone.
Instead, news media professionals need to start analysing and questioning the real value of the company’s overall goals and ensuring involvement in location technology initiatives drives the common purpose. This would normally include getting closer to readers with more tailored future interactions.
Using location services not only helps news brands do their jobs better, but, more importantly, adds huge value to the customer experience, which is what matters most.
In the future, I believe that it will all be about the experience. Creating a better experience leads to a whole new breed of ambassadors for our brands. Never forget the power of mass endorsement from the people who matter most — our loyal customers.
Posted By: Mark Challinor
Posted Date: February 2016
Mobile messaging is the ability to reach readers (and consumers at large) on a one-to-one basis via their mobile device. The process, though, presents a unique challenge for media marketers interested in developing integrated reader experiences.
In 2015, as new ways to mobile message begin to emerge, we can expect to see more integrated campaigns, more clever targeting, and more creativity, but also much confusion as to what the best way is to target mobile users from the options available.
But let’s first take a step back.
Is SMS still relevant?
SMS, for example, is still a powerful mobile channel for many wanting to reach a range of users. But newer options such as push notifications inside news apps are emerging.
So, in getting closer to our readers, we need to consider how the mobile media landscape is going to change in the foreseeable future to identify the most effective ways to reach therm.
While location technologies are very likely to change the mobile advertising market significantly, the purchasing path is a still a poor experience in many cases.
The truth is, while mobile is playing a big part, readers and consumers generally are spending chunks of their day on desktop and other digital devices as they research products before coming to a buying decision. It’s all very fragmented.
Brands are increasingly recognising this, yet we all want integrated loyalty and communications programmes that not only deliver consistent brand experiences (across devices) but also make the most of existing marketing schemes.
Some marketing technologies are more effective at enabling information sharing and allowing for “digital harmony” than others. Guess what? SMS still wins here as one of the best ways to reach mobile users at scale.
What’s more, wireless networks and operators worldwide are increasing SMS geo-fencing capabilities for location-based targeting. However, many brands are not convinced anymore of SMS’s future potential due in part to the growth on platforms such as Facebook Messenger and Whats App.
Alternatively, the challenge for push notifications is that not all readers and consumers download (and regularly use) a brand’s mobile app.
Can you see the possible confusion I mentioned at the start here?
The new kid on the block
And what about beacon technology? The linking of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology with apps could be a powerful combination, particularly for our own outdoor marketing and our retail advertisers, by using beacons in stores and at events.
A beacon initiative that incorporates a smartphone app with immediate coupon redemption and a mobile payment could reduce much of the fragmentation and could be a powerful, bespoke campaign opportunity we could monetise as part of an advertising package to brands and agencies.
With beacons, we just need to be careful not to turn off consumers by sending too many messages. This is potentially a very powerful technology if we use it wisely.
Ultimately, it is the customer who is dictating where marketing monies are being spent with adoption rates. We as media brands need to understand the reader profiles we’re dealing with and engage with them in a consistent manner (e.g. an e-mail to our most loyal readers needs to have the same voice as a direct mail piece or an SMS or push notification).
The message needs to help tell the overall story, and each of these things should be a piece of it.
Mobile needs to be at the centre of a multi-channel strategy. It is just a case of which of the mobile offerings to use and how to use them that is still to be determined. This year will help make some sense of it, I believe, as case studies start to emerge (such as this space regarding beacons, for instance).
And which offerings media companies decide to use in their mobile marketing strategies should always synchronise to their audience’s behaviours, needs, and desires.
If you don’t have a simple and easy to use/understand, mobile-optimised method for readers to get relevant editorial and ad content, updates, and information — especially in the way they would want to receive it — they will go to a competitor that is thinking about them ... and “subscribe” to them instead, both literally and mentally.
Experiment with mobile messaging to see which is right for you. Don’t be afraid to fail but fail fast and move on. And always remember the extremely personal nature of mobile. Get the right message at the right time to the right audience. Be contextual, be relevant.
One thing is for sure, though: Mobile messaging in whatever form is here to stay. Embrace it as a powerful tool to reach your audiences.
5 errors media companies make with mobile — and a lesson from The Beatles.
Posted By: Mark Challinor
Posted Date: Autumn 2015
When I present (which I have been doing at many media companies and conferences over the past few years), I always find myself focusing on the power of creativity.
As a “mobile evangelist,” I have come to realise the importance of using a creative approach to increasing the impact of your efforts in a world where “average” is awful.
Today, with rich media, HTML5, touch screens, and the Internet of Things, expectations are sky high from your readers and advertisers in mobile, where an increasingly creative world is being formed.
The question, therefore, is, are you changing your approach enough to match those expectations? In essence, does your approach reflect the environment around you?
General psycho-analytical research over many years has shown that traits and behaviours are actually extremely flexible, meaning you are able to develop, enhance, and improve on them to better serve your readers and advertisers. We just need to have the right attitude and belief in ourselves.
Here are five – perhaps stupid – errors we sometimes make by taking a fixed, “static mindset” approach, and some suggestions of ways in which you can become more creative:
1. Believing you can't think creatively.
If you want to become better creatively, research ways in which you could complete tasks differently. Hunt out the people in and around your organisation who reflect a more positive and alternative approach. Don’t surround yourself with negativity and negative people. They will bring you down.
John Hegarty, founding partner of worldwide advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH), once said cynics destroy creativity. Don’t associate yourself with them. “A cynic,” he said, “is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks for a coffin!” How true! Avoid these people at all costs.
2. Wanting to be viewed in a specific way.
So many of us are guilty of adapting our behaviours and actions so that other people will think of us in a certain way. Usually those people are our bosses and peers.
Be your real self! You’ve been hired to deliver great results based on what you’ve brought to the scene previously. Believe in yourself. The people who appreciate your efforts most are the people with whom you should surround yourself (see point number one above).
As the Nike brand tag line says, “Just do it!”
3. Avoiding challenges for fera of failure
Challenges (and sometime failures) are crucial in helping us grow and learn. If you don’t fail atanything, you’re less likely to grow. Take a few risks, look for challenges, and try to do things a bit differently.
Too many media companies have cultures that don’t allow for failures on their mobile development road maps. You need to allow for this. Creativity then flourishes. Fail if need be, as part of an experiment culture (mobile is still a new environment, after all). But fail fast, learn, and move on!
4. Giving up too easily.
Persist! Don’t let barriers stop you (usually internal politics, fear of failure, etc.). Rather, let them be your motivation. Remember that many creatively excellent examples never came easily!
Thomas Edison, who invented the lightbulb, once said that, in getting to the point of a truly functional, working lightbulb, he had to refine it many, many times. “I simply found 10,000 ways where it didn’t work, at first,” he said wryly. But he kept going ... and ultimately, changed the world.
5. Ignoring useful negative feedback.
No matter how hard it can be to hear, negative feedback is helping progress. The people who give you the feedback usually want to help you. Really! Embrace this. To improve your efforts, ensure you listen to their feedback and consider adapting what you’re doing appropriately.
A good example: I was born in the great city of Liverpool, England, the birthplace of The Beatles. Sir Paul McCartney was once asked, just as he was about to take to the stage at the famous Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, amid intense noise and screaming from fans, “Aren’t you nervous?” “No,” he said. “Everyone is here to see me do well, so I need to deliver that. If I thought about it too much, I would be, but ‘fearless’ is the key.” I can honestly say, I have always remembered and taken inspiration from this in life.
Are you fearless?
Take inspiration from key people and learn from them. Ask how they got to where they are today and the secrets of their success.
Try and break the mould of how you think about your mobile efforts. In mobile advertising today, there are many ways to engage readers that weren’t possible a few years ago. Smartphones offer amazingly creative
possibilities. The mobile environment will only get more complex as time elapses with all manner of smartwatches and other connected devices.
By thinking creatively, you will not only be capable of achieving better results, but you will also enjoy what you are doing more. I know this to be true.
Sometimes it can be hard to shift the “static mindset” thinking. But by learning to challenge this, you’ll be able to adapt the way you approach and think about how you best deliver creative excellence to your audiences.
Remember the words of The Beatles.
Posted By: Mark Challinor
Posted: Initially October 14
Newspapers have traditionally been somewhat slow to adapt to new technologies. However, there is now a stark realisation from us all that print is no longer the be all and end all.
Readers consume content anytime, anywhere, and the plethora of ways to do so grows by the minute.
The coming Internet of things makes it a truly connected world 24/7, where we are now identified by geo-location or an IP address.
Media companies now get that they can’t just continue to run their businesses the same way they’ve done so for years. They also realise the role interactive technologies are playing and that they will continue to play a big part in future business models.
The trick, though, is how to monetise this new world.
As print revenues decline, digital monies are not replacing them fully yet. Mobile, for example, is seen by many as an “add on” and not the premium channel it deserves to be. You, see, news media companies reach more people today than ever — through a print + digital offering/portfolio. We deserve better.
More creativity abounds now — more investment in trying new ideas, better structures with road maps, bespoke solutions across platforms. These all add to the mix.
And then there is data, the new oil! The future winners, according to Enders Analysis, are those who have a firm grip on their audiences and where they are going. That’s why many news media companies are capturing, manipulating, and exploiting their data.
When adding first-party data (via competitions, subscriptions, etc.) to the market and ad data that’s available freely, a powerful picture can emerge that’s attractive to advertisers.
Interactive media such as Augmented Reality are playing their part in this resurgence, too.The Daily Telegraph recently ran a special edition just for agencies and advertisers, where when scanning the print ads, all the ads were also made available in digital format. This educated agency folks on how to buy both digital and print ads.
This is helping advance the education of what new technologiess can bring. Education results in more creativity, which brings more bespoke ad solutions and this brings higher revenue opportunities. (That AR edition brought in more than US$750,000 new money on the back of that one exercise alone.)
So, it’s all simple isn’t it? Well, not quite, but news media are getting there.
In short, as INMA CEO, Earl Wilkinson points out in the 2014 annual industry report, the future is not print, the future is not digital ... the future is print plus digital plus “something extra.” That something extra is e-commerce, adjacent business tie-ins, data exploitations, etc.
So, where does mobile payment technology fit in?
News media (and other publishers for that matter) are focused on developing mobile products more than anything else. But a whole range of technology companies (app stores, operators, and payment companies such as Barclaycard and Visa) are going to have a big impact on how publishers make money.
For instance, would giving readers the option to pay for media content through their mobile phone operators give a big boost to “circulation” sales?
If someone goes into a shop and buys a loaf of bread, it feels wrong to put it on your plastic card. The same could be said of picking up a daily newspaper.
Consider the logic. There are more people with mobile phones than credit cards in the world, so mobile billing could be a way to increase sales. The potential is there. App stores are already doing a decent job of taking much of the pain and hassle out of paying for content on mobiles, it could be argued.
But for “non-app” sales, or for reaching consumers without a credit card, it could be a good way of tapping into users who don’t yet pay for things with a mobile.
What’s needed is an education exercise to iron out the trust and fear factors from the telemedia industry to publishers. Assuring us there is no risk ... and of the benefits.
Another hot topic is whether or not this would help users make mobile advertising payments.
Near field communications (NFC, now on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus) allows mobile users to pay for items simply by tapping bank cards on payment points. This surely has big potential.
If NFC payments do eventually take off, it could provide an interesting and powerful new way to track the impact of advertising on a range of purchases, particularly at point of sale.
This element has been missing for advertisers thus far and news media companies, as being “trusted” brands at the very heart of buying decisions, could be well placed to take advantage of new developments and efficiencies in the mobile retail process. Think of the e- and m-commece and brand extension opportunities.
Education again is and will be key. There is still not enough knowledge in news media businesses to ensure this is fully explored and ultimately exploited. But slowly it’s happening.
This latter message of education and support is one I am taking on behalf of our industry in October, to Marbella, Spain, to campaign for support from the payments industry. I will keynote at the World Telemedia annual conference.