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Can you compensate missed out advertising revenue with voluntary payments?

Yesterday I had a lively discussion about a business idea of two colleagues of mine. They want to install a voluntary payment system on websites additional to their existing  income models.

And I don’t think it will work (just yet).

The idea is to identify users that don’t generate much income. For example if your users coming from Facebook would generate a lot of page impressions but somehow don’t generate any or only little advertising revenue as they view your website on Facebook itself you could identify them and ask them directly to pay a compensation on a voluntary basis.

My lead question here is: what is it you’re selling?

When your current situation is that people use your website but don’t generate ad revenue you only have one real option to sell and that is to block these users from using your website in case they don’t pay. Only if you do that all of them who didn’t want to pay (which will be the vast majority) won’t come back to your site. If you depend on your websites reach (advertising space usually is sold by reach) you will suffer and eventually loose money.

So you can not give them something additional to what they have gotten for free and you can not take away something apparently only you think is worth paying for.

So in the end people who pay and people who do not will end up with exactly the same service. This is what voluntary means.

So what is it you’re selling?

Let’s face it it’s a good conscience. You decide whether you believe to make money with that.




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