Velvet ropes and the marriage of content/commerce

An inspiring week, catching Thrillist head dude Ben Lerer chatting to PandoDaily’s Sarah Lacy and explaining how content and commerce can live side by side without being mobbed by ads. Not necessarily convincing, but probably tenable given that the ‘content’ is all fizzy copy about food/drink, clubs/music, fashion etc.

[Note to Ben – the London Beta version of Thrillist has promise but will be needing a hang of a lot more content – which won’t come cheap…)

I contend that Techdirt’s ‘velvet rope’ approach offers a more sustainable ‘communities’ based idea for an alternative to  paywalls, at least in newspapers, by encouraging your readers to feel part of the community with clever perks and offers.

Monetising content is an especially hot topic this week – and no surprise, given that British papers have just posted double-digit year-on-year circulation losses. Another chap at the excellent PandoDaily blog has added his tuppence worth to how to monetise magazines (and by extension in the online space, newspapers too). There’s potential in ads targetted around specific stories, but I’m not so sure about reeaders being encouraged to leave tips (you want fries with that?).

And on my own riff, who knows, perhaps we could ramp up the community feel by introducing a vote based system for comments, and who knows, perhaps a story commissioning system that works a bit like Quora, ie reader poses a questions, and sources gather round to offer perspective, while the newspaper reporter adds an official ‘objective’report. Just thinking out loud…

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