Today we launched nibl. We are a small company trying to do something big – change the way people produce and consume content online.
The model the internet has built for itself funds content in two ways – advertising and subscriptions. The huge behemoths in the advertising market, Google and Facebook, make the lions share of money generated by content through advertising (the content producers get a shockingly low percentage). This allows these companies to invest in crazy things like driverless cars and $19B chat applications, while the content producers – the people producing the real value behind the internet, are left to pick up the scraps.
Privacy also suffers under this model. Advertising requires knowledge of your demographic. The more you know, the more valuable your ad space. I think most people would be shocked to learn exactly how much Google and Facebook know about them, and we’ve recently seen some high profile stories about the dangers of that kind of knowledge being concentrated in one place.
For media companies not named Google or Facebook, advertising doesn’t work (just ask your local newspaper). These companies have started implementing subscription models (the dreaded paywall). While this model works for a few (notably those who already have a large, diverse readership), it is a very difficult model for smaller publishers, and the industry has built for itself some roadblocks that aren’t helping.
The final piece of this puzzle is payment processing. Credit Cards are the primary currency of the internet, but the smaller a transaction gets, the more expensive they become. At $1.00, credit card companies are taking a whopping 30% (or more) of each transaction). This creates an artificial floor for prices, which can eliminate demand for certain types of content, leaving advertising as their only option for monetization.
Imagine, if you would, walking into your local newsstand, browsing the shelf, and opening an interesting magazine. You decide you want to buy it, so you walk up to the counter to pay. In the real world, you’d fork over a few bucks and walk out with a magazine. In the internet world, it currently works a little differently. First, you’d have to sign up for an account with the magazine. So you hand over to the clerk your email address. Then, you’d have to give the clerk your payment information, so you give them your credit card. If you decide you want to buy a magazine from a different publisher, then you have to repeat the process, handing over this information to a new publisher. And there is a good chance they wouldn’t be willing to sell you a single copy (it is hard for me to fathom turning away a customer that is holding money in their hands, but that is what the industry does every single day), but would instead insist that you sign up, on the spot, for a recurring subscription. And by the way, that email address you’ve given up is going to be sold to marketers. You’ll learn that the hard way when your inbox starts filling up. My guess is that this model wouldn’t work in the real world, and it isn’t working in the online world, either.
What should happen is that you should be able to anonymously pay for the magazine (or two, or three) and be done. Down the road, once you’ve discovered the true value of a publication, you should have the option to subscribe, but it shouldn’t be required. That’s why we built nibl. Along the way we learned some other lessons, which I’ll touch on in future blogs, but our basic premise is that content creators should make the lions share and everyone else should be working hard for the scraps.
Don’t get me wrong, we do recognize that publishers need to eventually build relationships with their consumers, and publishers will find that nibl provides extensive tools for helping them build that relationship, but we put the control where it belongs – with the consumer.
Our belief is that people will pay for good content if the price is right and if you make the transaction easy. So we built a system that lets you charge as little as a penny, maintains your privacy, and makes it easy to buy (and sell) from a wide variety of publishers. Our task now is to build out our network.
If you have digital content to sell, nibl wants your business. You can upload content directly to nibl or use our plugins and APIs to integrate nibl with your existing web property. Yes, we are new, and we are not a huge multinational corporation with offices in 15 countries, but we are passionate about this mission and dedicated to coming to work everyday to make sure nibl provides the features that content creators and publishers need to make our vision a reality. Our team is looking forward to growing and learning, and most importantly, listening.
If you like where we’re headed, you can send me a penny and in the process you’ll get a tour of the nibl experience.
Welcome to nibl.