In Friday's column I wrote about Newspage and its innovative subscription strategy, an excellent model that could be effectively employed by online Web newspaper services. On Friday, another, complementary Web publishing charging scheme was introduced: Clickshare by Newshare Corp. of Williamstown, Massachusetts.
In a nutshell, the Clickshare system will allow Internet users to purchase information by the document from a variety of independent publishers, who all belong to the Clickshare network. An online news consumer would establish a billing relationship with an independent Clickshare member publisher -- a newspaper, for example. When the consumer went out on the Internet looking for information, she could purchase information that had a price tag by entering a single name and password acceptable to all Clickshare member publishers. She could purchase information as easily from a publisher in another country as from her home newspaper's Internet service.
The Clickshare system monitors and collects data on where the consumer has visited and purchased information, then sends the data back to the home publisher and the remote publisher. The remote publisher receives his share of the sale, the local publisher keeps a slice in compensation for the referral, and Newshare keeps a portion. And the participating publishers receive a detailed accounting of what consumers are reading, which can serve to provide advertisers with a verified account of online viewership.
The Clickshare concept has some wise thinking behind it. President Bill Densmore, a former newspaper publisher, has designed Clickshare as an open system supporting Internet standards. Consumers can use Clickshare with any Web browser software. It makes purchasing data on the Web simple; the consumer gets only one bill no matter where in the world she has purchased information. And a single password works everywhere. Credit card information is not transmitted over the Internet; rather, that data is kept solely by the local publisher. Consumers are kept track of by an alphanumeric ID number that is discernable only by the local publisher.
Densmore wants publishers to pay $795 to be a Clickshare member, plus $1 per year for each enabled local user up to 10,000 users. The service will go into alpha testing in late September; beta testing is scheduled for late fall -- and Densmore is looking for volunteers.
Clickshare as a concept has a lot going for it. It would allow newspaper publishers worldwide to put price tags on their premium data online -- say, access to their electronic archive -- and easily permit anyone on the Internet to buy it without having to submit a credit card number.
This idealistic vision of Internet publishing commerce is predicated, of course, on Newshare signing up a critical mass of publishers to be part of the Clickshare network. That's going to be its biggest challenge, especially since Newshare is a small company without a proven track record. I, for one, wish them luck.
This brief write-up can't do the full Clickshare concept justice. I suggest you take a look at Newshare's full Clickshare news release. Bill Densmore can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-458-8001.
Internet news from outside the U.S.
If you're looking for online services/interactive news from around the world, here's a great free resource you should know about. Madanmohan Rao, communications director of the United Nations' Inter Press Service bureau, writes a weekly column called "International Internet NewsClips." He capsulizes stories from newspapers and magazines around the world, with a heavy emphasis on Internet developments. His column can be found at the MecklerMedia Web site in the "Net Day" section. Madan also posts the column regularly to the online-news and online-newspapers Internet lists.
Steve Got a tip? Let me know about it
If you have a newsworthy item about the newspaper new media business, please send me a note at email@example.com.
This column is written by Steve Outing and underwritten by Editor & Publisher magazine. Tips, letters and feedback can be sent to Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org