Bitcoin and Content Monetization

Bitcoin might be the missing piece online property owners have been looking for in order to monetize their content.

Written on: July 19

Nothing exemplifies the problems inherent in monetizing internet video content like webchat pornography.  Working in webchat porn is hard business. Aside from the grind of performing sex acts for strangers, many of the largest webchat companies take a sizable chunk of a girl's (or guy's, as the case may be) profit, with generally only like 40-50% actually making it to the performer. Many credit cards and e-payment options - like paypal - refuse to work with webcam sites, complicating greatly the payment funnel. Enter Streamium.

In its current iteration, Streamium is meant to remove the middleman between the creator of video content and the consumer. Video streamers set an hourly USD price rate to view their live content, which is paid in bitcoin to their cashout address. This hourly rate is paid by the second in a continuous flow of micropayments, which are deposited in an escrow feature of the bitcoin protocol. When the consumer disconnects, the escrow funds are released to the content provider. The service is entirely free and open source. The content consumer and creator need not trust each other, nor pay any fees to a middleman to act as a trusted intermediary. Anybody can stream video and establish a fee-free payment channel in literally seconds. For the webcam gals, this has the potential to be liberating, from both economic and perhaps other perspectives as well.

And apparently, webcams are used for other things besides pornography, meaning the benefits of this technology are not limited to this one internet niche. Web seminars, tutoring sessions, legal and medical advice, counseling, online classes, movie screenings - there is a massive number of potential uses of the technology.

Streamium also provides a glimpse into how content monetization might look in the future. While this might sound a bit dull, consider the frustration felt when your favorite newspaper disappears behind a paywall, or you follow a link to an interesting article only to find it is inaccessible without subscribing - only $15 per month, less than your morning cup of coffee! This is also inefficient for newspapers. Paywalls discourage a significant portion of visits and reduce overall page sessions, undermining ad revenues and social sharing. However for a number of reasons, most important being to discourage print subscribers from canceling paper subscriptions in favor of the free web versions, newspapers are left with little alternative. Without a mechanism to collect micropayments - which fees from traditional payment processors like credit cards or paypal make inefficient - the newspaper is left with little choice but to offer a blanket monthly subscription model.

Imagine instead that a streamium-esque cashout address box were placed in the corner of a webpage, offering readers access to content for fractions of a penny per second, or by article, or by day. This would provide an additional method for newspapers to monetize traffic unwilling to pay for an annual web subscription but still interested in consuming the content. And though a few pennies per article might sound insignificant, this actually could represent a significant rise in revenue for major publications. Consider for instance that the New York Times offers advertisers a CPM - or cost per 1000 page impressions - starting from $8, or 8/10 of a penny per page visit. Charging visitors a three cent per page view fee, pretty negligible from a user perspective, would actually increase revenues generated from their visited pages by almost 200%, if we assume that three ads displayed per page on average.

One need not manage a site the size of The New York Times to benefit from bitcoin as content monetization.  More and more sites are setting up publicly displayed bitcoin addresses to which users can show appreciation for an article or blog by buying the author a "beer" or "cup of coffee", expressed in the equivalent amount of bitcoin. The concept was actually popularized by the community of alternative currency dogecoin, and has become somewhat ubiquitous on forums like bitcointalk and reddit when a particularly valuable post is made. While the method largely depends on the kindness of strangers, readers have demonstrated willingness to tip for good content. Moreover, various proposals for enhancing this concept have been made, our favorite of which is allowing users to "vote" for the content they would like to see produced next, the vote expressed by sending bitcoin to a designated address, or simply embedding the desired content as a message in the bitcoin sent.

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Bitcoin Price (USD): 766.11