The End Of The Free Web

The rise of ad-blocking will force us to confront the fact that the free lunch provided by advertising is not long for this world. The good news is that the ensuing crisis will compel us finally to look for what we should have invented decades ago, namely sustainable business models for the web. For example, it’s possible that cryptocurrencies might enable the “micro-payments” that would make users to pay a tiny amount for any article they read. We need more ideas like that, and I’m sure we’ll get them. Necessity is the mother of invention.

What about a monthly subscription ?

Let’s say that for 10 bucks a month you’d get access to several websites without having to deal with specific subscriptions, just a single one : the service. The service would gets a cut for its own profitability, then split variable revenues accros the differents publishers affiliated based on the pageviews of the reader/subscriber.

If the reader only opens a link per month, the 10 bucks minus the service‘s cut goes to that single publisher, and so on.

This idea has already been put in place in a rather confidential way by Elinea, a Dutch company, and more recently by another one — though I can’t remember its name. Both are based on the all-you-can-read model.

This could possibly gain momentum if indie publications with strong names jump onboard. But as of now, I bet they’re reluctant to get rid of The Deck and native ads, which they seem fine with.

Last week, the content-blocker Crystal announced a partnership with Eyeo, a service that whitelist website using ads considered as acceptable. The promise is that Crystal will indeed show ads that have been approved by the members of the organization, based on several criterias. 

From now on, I think this is a good trade of between cleaning big websites, which are imposing a shitload of ads (but also rely on subscriptions) and supporting indies (who don’t offer subscription for the most part). I encourage you to read more about Crystal’s initiative.

→ The Guardian