by K. V. Rao
Today, we’re in San Diego at DEMO09, where established vendors and start-ups alike come to launch their wares to a panel of journalists, VCs, technologists, and thought leaders. We’re here to launch our latest offering, Z-Commerce for Media. Why Media, why now, you ask?
The publishing industry has struggled with the transition to the online world. While technology vendors successfully made the transition to SaaS and subscriptions, publishers opted for ad-supported and classified revenue models, giving away their content for free. As print circulation numbers continue to fall, and advertising and classified revenues drop, the media industry is struggling to stay afloat. We’ve recently seen household names like Readers’ Digest file for bankruptcy and the San Jose Mercury News print a ‘frank talk’ with readers about their financial woes, which begs the question, could the San Francisco Chronicle or the Boston Globe be next?
We at Zuora can’t imagine a world without a thriving free press. We believe that professional journalism is the cornerstone of democracy, so it’s time to do something to save this critical industry.
In order to survive, publishers must find new and better ways to monetize their online content. Rupert Murdoch and Barry Diller have already challenged their organizations to move away from free content. But what is the right business model? Is it monthly all-or-nothing access like the Wall Street Journal or a metered approach like the Financial Times? Is it pre-paid accounts and micropayments? Or something more nuanced like targeted premium packages for specific interests? The truth is, no one knows what pricing model will work best, so publishers need to start experimenting with bundles and packages quickly.
But media companies are going to need a flexible platform to create the right bundles for the right subscribers. As other subscription businesses have learned, a one-size-fits-all approach won’t maximize revenue, and over time they’ll need to package content to attract different market segments. But where is the platform to enable them to launch and test new products, manage invoicing, and collect recurring revenue? A lot of vendors, including Google, are talking about plans to offer products to help the media industry, but it will take time for them to actually build something. In an interesting side note, just last week Google’s CEO criticized News Corp’s plan to charge for content on all of their sites, saying that “there are enough free sources” of general news.
That’s where Z-Commerce for Media comes in. Zuora built the de-facto subscription platform for the SaaS and cloud computing industry that’s already being used by over 100 companies; and we think that this same technology can be applied to media. Z-Commerce for MediaTM is the first online commerce platform for publishers to (a) price, package, and publish content bundles online, (b) to register and manage new and repeat subscribers and their entitlements, (c) and to streamline the entire billing and payment operations processes.
What’s more – we’re already working with online publisher GigaOM and Reed Business Information, Europe’s biggest online and offline publisher – to manage their subscription billing and payment operations.
I’m excited that Zuora has chosen the media industry for our first industry solution, and look forward to helping publishers successfully make the transition to the subscription economy.
We’ll be blogging and tweeting from the show floor, so stay tuned!