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Journey into Web Monetization
Web Monetization is a new Web Services (API) that allows users to stream a small number of micropayments to the website they are looking at via their browser or other web user agent. Webmonetization.org has all the technical details of the technology for those who are curious. However, this article aims to simplify the concept of Ad-free content supported by the user via realtime micropayment. Hence, this is suitable for technical people and UX designers, PMs, and other stakeholders looking to understand alternative revenue sources and how the consumer journey can evolve to provide the best consumer experience. For context, I am a Software Engineer in the Blockchain and FinTech space. But, I have an Interactive Systems Design (CS + Psychology + Arts) background, and I spent four years learning and working on how to combine CS with Psychology and Arts to provide the best user experience. So, bringing that experience to Web Monetization is exciting for me!
The Web Monetization space today
From the lens of a consumer, they go through a few phases in their consumer journey. I highlight some of them below:
How do content consumers find out about Web Monetization? For most people hearing about Web monetization, their first contact point is the webmonetization.org. Although the website explains the concept and API in plain language, potential consumers who are not in tech or even those outside the Blockchain/Crypto might not understand what this technology is all about. Do the content and explanation instill trust? Or doubt?
‘Web-Monetized’ is not a consumer-facing language because it does not speak to the benefits of Web monetization; neither does it provide consumers with an easy way to remember/share the technology. Could we simplify the terms or adopt a more consumer-friendly name to describe Web monetization? What does Web monetization mean for users? And how could that be applied to the name we adopt for the API? EvaluationAfter discovery, do users understand what web monetization is? For those who visit the landing page, what is their Web Monetization opinion from a consumer perspective? How does the explanation of web monetization make users feel? Do users who are passionate about supporting creators get inspired and find creators to support? Do users who dislike ads get convinced to discover more content? Because most of the available content is relatively functional and developer-focused, beginner consumers feel like the technology is not ready to start enjoying. With Coil’s content focused on partnerships and platforms, consumers are directed to these platforms, but for some, the value proposition is still not clear.
Could webmonetization.org be improved to include a focus on consumers and focus on Creators? Could there be other sources for highlighting and showcasing Web monetized, AKA user-supported, or ad-free content?
After a user learns about Web Monetization and gets convinced about the potential of relying on Web Monetization for content consumption, how easy it is to make that decision and leap to get on board? Coil has done a fantastic job of getting consumers to subscribe. The process is seamless.
After subscription, getting started with enjoying Web monetized content is still a little bit complicated. You either need a Browser extension for Desktop or the Puma Browser for Web. Currently, users have to hunt for the browser extension to download it, and after installing the extension, they still need to know where it is in the browser to log in and activate it.
After set up, do consumers find enough ad-free web-monetized content? How do we help them filter out and quickly discover web-monetized content? Consumers will continue to pay a subscription fee if the content they find out is useful and matches their expectations. We retain consumers when we give them options. And let their options give them more options.
Better Web Monetization for content consumers
To make web monetization accessible and easy to break into, consumers’ user journey needs to be concise and easy to follow. At every stage in the process, descriptions and concepts should be explained in terms that content consumers understand. For example, web-monetized content could be worded as user-supported content or ad-free content for a content consumer. The section below highlights some areas of the content consumer journey and recommendations for improvement:
Discovery ⚠️:For consumers, rebrand Web Monetization around consumer benefits (i.e., Reader-supported content, Ad-free content?)
Evaluation ⚠️:Create customer-centric, content-driven landing page and newsletter of web-monetized content
Decision ✅:Coil handles this well. Affiliate program for providers in the system?
Opt-in ✅:Improve documentations around Puma browser and the Web Extention because for someone new to extensions, it is hard to install and setup
Retention:Create browsing tools that highlight Web monetized content in realtime from search results
What you can do
In summary, Ads Suck, privacy is at a tipping point. Passion economy/creators rules. Web Monetization is the future because it gives people optionality and allows them to support creators, so creators still get paid. Conde Nast in it’s Vogue Magazines are web-monetized, Wired, Pitchfork, The New Yorker, and many others are Web-monetized. So what stopping you? This article is a call to action for Developers, Designers, Product Managers, and others interested in the space to continue to build and especially build more with the content consumer in mind. I am happy to chat about the work I did with Paul Sieka to understand the space better and build better onboarding and retention for both Consumers and Creators (A creator-focused article coming soon!)