When publishers are asked why they release their most exclusive articles online for free, the normal answer is because it’s the content which is most likely to drive traffic, which in turn brings in heightened advertising revenues.
Many companies have based their business around this model - and with considerable success. However, the news that 41% of young people now use ad-blockers and with many more choosing to browse in incognito mode, it seems as if this model is increasingly becoming flawed.
In line with this trend, a new journalism platform called Blendle has been introduced. It allows users to pay per article they read, effectively stopping clickbait.
Launched last year, the site took over the Dutch market, where it’s based, quickly and has since signed up all of Germany’s national newspapers - including 18 dailies and 15 weeklies. The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post have all come onboard too, increasing the platform’s audience in the USA.
With 250,000 users, most of which are young, Blendle has an enviable pool of customers. The platform has a feed which displays all the articles which the user is likely to be interested in, as well as trending topics. Readers submit their card details on registration and then pay a small fee (with 20p the average for an article) which can be immediately refunded if an article is not to their liking.
Having been founded by two former journalists, Blendle now claims that it’s created more revenue for Dutch publishers than Apple. The platform has aggressive plans for expansion, with France its next likely destination. A company rule is that the platform will only be released nationally if over two-thirds of the country’s publishers have signed up, so there's a lot of work ahead.
From a journalistic perspective, Blendle is exciting. Whilst the internet has given birth to many quality publishing companies, it’s also allowed poor-quality content to easily slip through the net. Blendle would negate this, meaning that journalists are rewarded when their work is exceptional.
For the world’s most prestigious publishing houses, Blendle could be a worthy experiment. Advertising models aren’t as profitable as they once were, so coming up with a platform like Blendle makes perfect sense.
More than anything, it should make the quality of content rise, which is clearly of the upmost importance.