Pay-Per-View Made Easy

Cheryl Cain
In a recent article series in XBiz, Randall Crockett from DRM Networks outlined some of the reasons for — and techniques of implementing — pay-per-view content systems. While Crockett focused on delivering video-based content protected by a digital rights management (DRM) system, this isn't the only – or necessarily the "easiest" – method of building a pay-per-view website. Let's take a closer look:

Why Pay-Per-View?
To reinforce what you might have already heard (or seen for yourself while pouring over your sales stats), surfers are becoming less and less interested in purchasing traditional paysite memberships. There are several reasons for this, including the monthly cost, a fear that it will be difficult (or impossible) to cancel the membership, dissatisfaction with previous paysite memberships and an uncertainty that the content they seek will actually be available within the members area.

While the issues of cost and cancellation are easily addressed by offering lower-priced "discount" websites and featuring prominent "cancel" or "customer service" links, the glut of low-quality, "cookie cutter" paysites that do not deliver what they promise has left many wary consumers in its wake – consumers who may not be easily convinced to join another paysite. You might, however, be able to overcome some of their reluctance by presenting a very professional tour with high-quality samples and extensive support documentation like FAQs and a "help" area that will give the impression that your site is what it promises, and thereby make a new sale. Likewise, a prospective member's uncertainty that the content they seek will actually be available within the members area can be addressed through your tour by providing a comprehensive, thumbnailed list of the galleries, feeds and videos that you offer members.

There is a simple reason why this is necessary and it has to do with some of the industry's traditional marketing practices: for years, webmasters have been told that using unique, high-quality content – rather than the overused sponsor-provided offerings – to build free sites and galleries was the way to not only get favorable listings on link sites and TGPs, but to encourage click-throughs to the sponsor.

While link list and TGP owners benefited from this practice by being able to offer their site's visitors more diverse materials and content providers profited by enjoying a market well beyond the traditional paysite arena, the unintended consequence was that a surfer, hoping to see more of the model he enjoyed on that free site or gallery – and logically assuming that "more" would be contained within the website being promoted on that free site or gallery (especially given the common use of catch phrases like "click here to see more of me") – would be invariably disappointed when that model (or the complete set) was not found within the sponsoring paysite's members area...

It's doubtless that a customer's feeling of being victimized by "false advertising" in this regard has led to more than a few chargebacks.

A Simple Solution
An easy way to overcome all of these issues can be found through the use of a click-based micro-payment system such as the one offered by Using the example above of a tour page that features a thumbnailed list of all of the galleries and videos that you offer members, all that would be required to transform the traditional paysite into a pay-per-view site would be the replacement of the links on these thumbnails that would typically point to your join page with PayAsYouClick links directly to the featured content.

Now, rather than clicking through to a membership offer (with all of the aforementioned drawbacks), the customer can pick and choose the exact content that he or she wishes to view, such as individual videos, photo galleries (or even individual images), stories and more.

Through the offering of exclusive, quality content and the careful setting of price points, this ala carte method of content monetization may indeed yield a higher amount of revenue per surfer than does traditional membership sales. Of course, savvy webmasters could offer both options (individual content offerings as well as full memberships) as a way of maximizing sales while satisfying the preferences of most of their customers.

Creativity and giving the customer what he or she wants is the key to success in this market and the effective use of pay-per-view systems is an increasingly integral part of this process. Try it on your own site and see for yourself!