Thursday, April 04, 2013

Content Cashier

Buying content is way too cumbersome.  I don't mean the Amazon 1click buy but rather the individual article or chapter you might want to read.  We are seeing how video and audio (Netflix On Demand and iTunes for example) are morphing into single transaction type activities and this should happen for print.  Eliminating all impediments to the efficient sale or transaction of content should be the objective of any content owner yet with all the investment in online retail, publishing processes and efficient supply chains, the media industry has simply transferred the old models to the online world.  Outside of complete books, content is still very hard to transact on.

But there is a simple fix: I've long thought that content should carry with it a 'cash register' which would allow immediate purchase, rent or access (based on user rights).   I'll admit that metadata is not the industry's strong point but part of the reason metadata in media is generally so abysmal is that there is too much distance between the metadata owner and the transaction.  Tighten that space to where there's no difference and you'll see metadata improve fast.

Let's say a publisher wants to make a book chapter salable.  "Content Cashier" (TM pending) will provide the prospective buyer with a price for the type of transaction they want such as buy, rent, etc.  If they have a profile with "Content Cashier" this transaction will occur in the background with a simple acknowledgement (yes/no) that the customer wants to continue.  If not, the user will be able to pay via some other method (Paypal, Amazon) in less than 60seconds.

Publishers would attach their terms of use and pricing within a very simple framework - little different than if you were in a physical bookstore.  The bookstore experience assumes many things notably if you buy a book you are going to transact at the register and walk out with it.  "Content Cashier" will also take certain assumptions for granted about the transaction and the customer to simplify the pricing and the transaction itself.  In our model the publisher will pick up more than 95% of the value of the transaction (we haven't decided yet), but there is no reason why standard retailer discounts, commissions and other fees should apply when we've eliminated all the inefficiencies in the supply chain to shorten the gap between content and the buyer.

Other tools will allow a publisher to create collections and retail 'pop-up' storefronts that maximize their opportunities to reach out directly to customers.  The real benefit however will be that "Content Cashier" travels with the content so that at any time - meaning when the content is out of the control of the publisher - a transaction can be executed.  Pass a link via email, find the article in a database, or list the item on a course outline or LMS, no problem; "Content Cashier" will let the user pay for that content instantly.  When this type of instant transaction can be facilitated at the point of need publishers will begin to improve their metadata, simplify their pricing and engage in experiments with their customers to maximize their revenues.

Providing "Content Cashier" information on your content is likely to enable new business opportunities for new market entrants who want to use content as a component of a product with many more unique additional features and services they have developed.  Enabling these new models becomes far easier when a set of simple terms and conditions travels along with the content.  There are any number of new platforms, store ideas, collaborations, services and tools and these increase by the day.  Many are spurious, some are stupid but occasionally a really new idea will come along.  Since many of these new ideas fight for your attention and time why not make it easy for them, stop the guessing game and start to manage your retail opportunities in at proactive way.   That's what "Content Cashier" is all about.

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