New ways of paying for the web

The web is constantly evolving, with new ideas coming forward all the time to give more choice for businesses and their audiences.

JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin

A new startup called Blendle may be changing the way we view and pay for news articles and other material.

Blendle is a Dutch startup that works by charging micropayments (a few pennies at a time) for content that you read via their service. Blendle works in conjunction with many publishers, displaying their content and who in turn receive revenue when their content is read.

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People that have signed up to use Blendle can demand a refund if they read an article that they deem to be not worthy of their attention. So in theory good articles fare better than poorly written or ‘clickbait’ articles. Blendle displays content without advertising.

Now advertising itself is not a bad thing. So many websites would not exist without advertising. It is the single greatest source of revenue and most widely used way to earn a few pennies.

The problems with the advertising model are many though. Often advertising breaks the flow of content on the page with pop up ads, pop under ads, full screen ads, ads designed to get you to click before reading the full article, autoplaying videos, etc. If that wasn’t enough, advertising on a site can seriously slow down page load times, it has been linked to the spread of malware and it depends on high volumes of traffic to be viable.

This of course has led to an entire industry of ad blocking software, which is understandable. The problem there of course, is that sites which rely on advertising to exist, find it even harder or impossible to do so.

Various things have been tried already, including subscribing to sites to enjoy an ad free experience. The problem is that when reading things online, people don’t want to subscribe to each and every website separately.

So now we come back to Blendle. It has been going for just over a year in the Netherlands and has also launched in the USA too. In a recent blog on Medium, Blendle give a run through of things they have learned in the first 365 days since the launch of the startup.

To summarise, publishers have found that subscriptions to their print editions (for those that are in print) have not dropped, but instead they have gained new (and younger) readers via Blendle. As Blendle users can effectively punish clickbait style articles by demanding refunds, it has had the knock on effect of promoting good quality journalism. Straight news articles do not do as well as in depth analysis articles. Which could be attributed to the fact that news is freely available elsewhere, like on social media.