Can a new experience that gives consumers paid access to an ad-free version of a wide network of publisher websites, be a hit with the industry?
Former Chartbeat founder Tony Haile hopes the answer is a big yes.
On the Digital Subscriptions / Consumer Revenue Innovation Mission in New York City on Nov. 12-14, attendees will learn all about Haile’s company Scroll and the revenue opportunity it could mean for local media companies.
We caught up with Haile to hear more about Scroll:
Tell us a little about how your technology works and why you built it?
I was always fascinated by the first redesign of a publishers site. The design before we had to throw in the native links to baldness cures at the bottom or the expanding video interstitial. Before the fights between opinion and ad sales over who should have the top right column space. That redesign was purely consumer-centric and beautiful. I wanted to find a way to give consumers that.
The tech itself is pretty simple as it relates to publisher pages. It simply enables publishers to recognize a Scroll subscriber’s cookie and deliver that pure customer-centric page, no interruptive ads, no dodgy trackers in the way that publisher best chooses. We then measure the amount of engaged time the user spends with the publisher and pay out on an agreed-upon model that beats what the publisher would have made from monetizing it normally.
We knew that if publishers were to come together to build this it wasn’t enough to make the economics work, we had to make the tech low lift too.
Your technology helps monetize non subscribers. Why is this audience so critical?
It’s critical because as an industry we won’t survive purely monetizing our top 2% of visitors. The pathway to monetizing that top 2% of super fans through direct consumer revenue is clear. However, the other 98% is more difficult. CROs are doing whatever they can right now to maintain ad revenues in the face of platform competition because those ads are what are keeping butts in seats in the newsroom, but it’s harder and harder every quarter.
We looked pragmatically at two things: 1) Sell-through rates on direct in particular meant that there was room for multiple complementary revenue streams targeted at that 98% without fears of cannibalization and 2) there was a clear cohort of users that may not be a superfan of any one site but wanted to have a purely customer-centric experience across the sites they visited. These were people for whom access wasn’t important but experience was. We wanted to create a complementary opportunity to monetize those people.
Tell us how Scroll is thinking about the casual fan experience?
We’re focused on the people who may not even know which site they’re on but know the experience they want when they get there. When it comes to monetizing casual fans, network approaches are increasingly the only viable option. Multiple publishers have tried offering customer-centric ad-free offers, almost all of them now work with Scroll. The reason is that offering an experience-based offer on an individual site basis is still only viable within the top 2% who will buy something from an individual site. That 2% are also your most valuable ad consumers and the people most ok with your experience as is. Far better to focus the right revenue model on the right cohort: converting that 2% through access and membership models and enabling the 98% who won’t convert on an individual site basis to be monetized through network-based means.
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