Monetization of digital assets online

This article built upon the techniques described by Dr Craig Wright in his article ‘Digital rights management: Serialised media’

The sad state of the internet of content

It’s interesting to look at how quickly people moved from legacy media delivery services (Blockbuster video, free to air TV) to the convenience of having the bulk of our content delivered online. It is more interesting to see that this has all occurred without effective ways of distributing and monetizing that content that do not force consumers into expensive and cumbersome subscription models. While the abundant availability of online subscription services has reduced piracy in many markets, these models still locked consumers out of a lot of content. for instance here in Australia users can subscribe to Netflix and enjoy unlimited quantities of their content however to watch shows created on many other networks they are forced to subscribe to a second streaming content provider. for many consumers this barrier is too high pushing them to resort to piracy or indeed for some consumers to just switch off entirely.

Sadly even models based on micropayments still force the consumer to pay upfront and then draw down overtime due to the friction from moving money in the Legacy money networks. These schemes are ineffective and create a situation where consumers are financially locked into a platform that may not suit their needs.

A new model

With bitcoin we now have the opportunity to completely up-end the subscription based models that are so unfriendly towards consumers. We can create metanet driven platforms that allow users to buy access to content stored on the public ledger on demand, using a model that frees them of monthly subscriptions that force them to pay for content that they don’t want to watch.

Using Bitcoin it becomes possible serve content with extreme granularity. We can allow the customer to pay for a movie per frame. To pay per slide of a presentation followed. To pay per message read in a mail or text message delivery service. Indeed, with Bitcoin and the Metanet, we will have the ability monetize services down to the individual TCP IP packet. Not only is this possible but it is essential element of the future promised by the Metanet.

But why?

There are two groups of service that we are seeking to re-imagine as metanet driven which are:

1. Providers of free services for the storage and serving of user content to other users (Facebook, Instagram, Youtube)
2. Providers of subscription based services for content (Netflix, Spotify)

In the context of the first group, you might ask what migration to the metanet could mean for content creators, and why you as a content consumer should be pushed to pay for everything that you now get for ‘Free’. I would turn that question around and ask you how much you actually exchange for services provided to you for free, which I would then argue is ownership of your online persona. This identity which is often used to share deeply personal messages and data with their friends, families and acquaintances is held up as a product, batched and sold like packaged goods to advertisers. The sad thing is that while this model makes the companies doing it a lot of money, it is still heinously inefficient and could easily generate much more when applied properly.

In the case of subscription services, the user has no granularity in the pricing relative to consumption. The cost stays the same whether they use the service for 1 hour a week or 10 hours a day.

There is also the issue of content being siloed into specific subscription providers, forcing users to pay for multiple services to access content across networks.

There are several negative outcomes from this model which include long term user disaffection, the creation of content for the sake of having content, and a user incentive to pirate content especially in cases where content is restricted on the basis of geography.

To give an idea of how the metanet can re-shape services like this to give users this article will now explore how a revision of content delivery pricing around a Metanet based service could icreate new opportunities for providers

Video Sharing

There are two methods by which video sharing websites currently sell access to content.

1. Ad supported

In the ad supported model, videos that I watch are served to me with ads both pre-pended and inserted into the streaming content, plus arrayed on the screen as banners and tiles. This method nets the content provider around 1c/hour of viewership plus maybe double that for the content provider. While this service allows viewers to access content for ‘Free’ the viewer is bombarded with obtrusive advertising which can distract from the content and negatively impacts their user experience.

2. Subscription

In the subscription model, I must give the service provider access to a facility that allows them to debit my finances by a set amount for a given time period. This is currently around $9/month on popular sites. For the viewer this removes all ads and in some cases allows access to exclusive content available only to subscribers. While this is good for a ‘prosumer’ who might consume several hours of content per week, for casual users there is no ‘best fit’ option. They either pay the fees or watch the ads.

Another way forward: Bitcoin driven hybrid model

Because Bitcoin gives us options we never had before regarding privacy and monetization, we can now create a usage model that is driven by user preference, but which still gives advertisers the ability to reach customers.

This example will cover a variety of content models and show how Bitcoin can improve the viewing experience for viewers as well as making it easier to monetise service provision by giving the user a preference over whether to be exposed to advertisers or to pay outright for the content and delivery services.

Unmonetized content

This is content created by users for the purposes of disseminating a message, or creating entertainment for a select group. This could be things such as recordings of community events or messages.

Users create the content and upload it to the site for free, and do so without the expectation of financial returns so the only cost is the provision of the delivery service.
In this model, viewers would have the following options:

1. 100% Ad supported – Persistent Banner ads and three 20 second full screen video ads per hour (One every 20 minutes) are displayed during the content. Service provider charges advertisers 1c per ad + 2c/hour for the banner.
2. Partially ad supported – One full screen ad prior and banner ads during + user pays 10c per hour (minimum 1c)
3. Fully paid – No ads and I pay 20c per hour (minimum 2c)

As the content creator is not paying for the content to be distributed and will not be monetizing it, there is little need for them to generate quality content.

Monetized content

This is content created by users for the purposes of providing information and entertainment with the express purpose of monetization of their content.

Users who create this content would be charged a fee to upload to the website (say $1 per video + $2/hour) to pay for the site to generate scripts to pay out to their wallet.

Users would again have multiple options to view the content:

1. 100% Ad supported – Persistent Banner ads and six 20 second full screen video ads per hour (One every 10 minutes) are displayed during the content. The service provider charges advertisers 2c per ad + 4c/hour for the banner. The creator is paid 1c per ad viewed + 1.5c/hour, or around $0.075 for a 1 hour viewing.
2. Partially ad supported – One full screen ad prior and banner ads during + user pays 20c per hour (minimum 2c). Content creator gets 0.5c per ad viewed + 9c per hour, or around $0.095 for a 1 hour viewing
3. Fully paid – No ads and user pay 50c per hour (minimum 5c). Content creator gets 15c/hour

The model incentives the creator to find an audience who is willing to pay to consume their content by making high quality videos.

Premium produced content

The Premium produced content tier would include content such as TV shows, feature films and documentaries produced by studios. The nature of this content (serialised programming, high budget feature length films) would lend itself to higher costs per user. The following pricing models are suggested:

1. 100% Ad supported – Persistent Banner ads and eighteen 20 second full screen video ads per hour (Three every 10 minutes) are displayed during the content. The service provider charges advertisers 5c per ad + 10c/hour for the banner. The creators are is paid 3.5c per ad viewed + 7c/hour or $0.70 for a 1 hour show
2. Partially ad supported – Persistent Banner ads and six 20 second full screen video ads per hour (Three every 30 minutes) are displayed during the content + user pays $1.00 per hour (minimum 10c). Content creator gets 3.5c per ad viewed + $0.60 per hour, or $0.83 for a 1 hour show
3. Fully paid – No ads and user pay $2.00 per hour (minimum 20c). Content creator gets $1.20 for a 1 hour show

Again this model incentivises producers to generate content that users will pay the premium to consume ad-free, but which advertisers will also pay to have their ads.

While many users will still elect to receive the content for free, a measurable percentage will pay to save themselves from being exposed to the advertising.

The service provider can further incentivise consumers to choose the fully paid content by offering improved resolution, better analytics and curated comments. Users receiving free content will know up-front that they will be exposed to ads, but that there is an alternative which gives them that content in an ad-free format.

The major difference is that the user can now choose on a per-video basis exactly what they consume ad free. For simple entertainment, they may choose ad supported, but for information dense educational content, they might elect to pay. The important thing to ensure is that the user is put front and center in the decision making process. Without that, they will not buy into the new model.

If you would like to see my own premium produced content on a paid platform, please check out Channel B on Streamanity. I will be adding to the portfolio as I produce more quality content.

Most content here will be provided on a user pays basis, but a lot of it will also be released as free ad-supported content through Youtube after a delay. Now that you understand the true cost of ‘Free, which will you choose?

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