< Getting Desperate


Friday, February 20, 2009

BOB GARFIELD: And now we bring you another segment in our ongoing series on present and future business models for monetizing the newspaper industry.

CHORUS SINGING: Present and future business models for monetizing the newspaper industry.

BOB GARFIELD: There’s no shortage of proposals. Some think newspapers should make online readers pay a monthly or yearly subscription fee. Others think online newspapers could charge a small one- or two-cent fee, called a micropayment, for every article the reader opens. Still others think newspapers should be owned by nonprofit foundations endowed by rich people, as a matter of noblesse oblige. Then there’s Jon Stewart’s scheme.


JON STEWART: You know how when you're reading the newspapers and the newsprint comes off in your hands?

MAN: Yeah.

JON STEWART: What if we made that a highly addictive narcotic?


MAN: Wow, what an idea.

JON STEWART: So that if you read it, you'd be like, I gotta get my hands on another newspaper, man.



BOB GARFIELD: Cynthia Typaldos, founder and CEO of Kachingle.com, has yet a different idea – create a way that users can voluntarily contribute to their favorite online content without really thinking about it.

CYNTHIA TYPALDOS: Let's say I go to a blog and I go, oh, my God, this is great. I just love it. All I do is click on the Kachingle medallion which that blog has installed, and I say, this is a blog I love. And then every time I come back to that blog, Kachingle keeps track of that, and at the end of the month it takes my voluntary contribution and distributes it fairly across any kind of content or even service that I've visited that much.

BOB GARFIELD: So I decide I want to pay five dollars a month for my online media consumption and Kachingle allocates it based on what medallions I've clicked on and then what percentage of my online times has been devoted to each of those medallions.

CYNTHIA TYPALDOS: Exactly. So you can visit a blog that has the Kachingle medallion and read it as much as you want, but if it’s not something you want to support, you just don't click on the medallion.

BOB GARFIELD: Okay, now, obviously I can do all of the above without clicking on any medallions and get exactly the same content. It’s all there for free. Why do I as a user join Kachingle and send them five dollars or more per month?

CYNTHIA TYPALDOS: There are several reasons we feel that content consumers will want to do this. One, they really do want this great content to continue to survive. The other thing is that they're getting recognition when they support that blog, not only on the blog, where it says, hey, here’s all the Kachinglers, but they're also broadcasting it to their friends on Facebook. What we're enabling these content sites to do is to reach right out into their client base and have them do their marketing for them. And people want to do this because it’s all about me and who I am and the things that I believe are important.

BOB GARFIELD: One advantage Kachingle would seem to have is that there is no pay wall. Newspapers like The New York Times have found that when they tried to charge users for premium content, it sharply reduced traffic and therefore the amount of money they could charge advertisers for advertising on the site. No such risk with Kachingle, you say, eh?

CYNTHIA TYPALDOS: That’s exactly right, because you don't need to have any kind of pay wall, as you describe it, which is really the kiss of death in cutting off the viral capabilities of the Web. I mean, you can't Tweet an article any more. You can't post it on your blog. The great thing about Kachingle is that you can still have advertising, too. It’s not one or the other.

BOB GARFIELD: There’s one other thing I have to ask you about. In exchange for the access to your infrastructure, you would be charging member websites 15 percent of all the revenue that you distribute to them. Now when we're talking about the billions of dollars that go into media operating budgets over the course of a year, that’s a staggering percentage. When you have approached publishers with that number, have they kicked you out of the office, have they called the cops? What – you know -


CYNTHIA TYPALDOS: Bob, tell me how you feel about this. Not at all. Remember, this is money that they cannot get in any other way. In fact, they think it’s very fair.

BOB GARFIELD: Have you done any research to suggest what kind of percentage of users would donate money to media that they can access for free?

CYNTHIA TYPALDOS: There have been some surveys done where, you know, the numbers look very good. But if you think about it, you don't need that many people to make contributions to make this viable not only for Kachingle but for the content producers - in the same way that with public radio it’s not everyone that contributes, but as long as a reasonable number of people do, it turns out to be real money.

BOB GARFIELD: Well, Cynthia, I wish you all the best of luck.

CYNTHIA TYPALDOS: Thank you very much.

BOB GARFIELD: Cynthia Typaldos is founder and CEO of Kachingle.com.