“Readers mean revenue even if they do not subscribe” – How Paperview hopes to solve snags in subscriptions and diversify payment options for readers

We often hear from members that one of the most important features of FIPP membership is the way that it provides a platform for established publishing companies to interact with smaller innovative tech and media companies.

One such company is new FIPP member Paperview. Based in startup-friendly Lisbon, Paperview’s remit is to try to make publisher subscription offerings more granular and varied by providing dynamic, affordable and seamless options for casual readers to purchase access to their content. By capturing the readers who don’t subscribe, Paperview argues, publishers can still monetise that significant chunk of visitors who are less invested in their core offering.

“We believe Paperview is a rare case because it adds value to both publishers and readers,” says Henrique Saias, tech evangelist and systems architect at Paperview. We caught up with Saias recently to learn more about how the company works, who they are currently partnering with and what’s in store for them next.

How did Paperview get started?

The press is facing tough times. The existence of an independent and accessible press is threatened in western democracies. Many newspapers have already gone out of business or become mouthpieces for extremist political ideas.

We analysed the press’ business model and concluded that, in the current economy, as social media and search engines drive most content discovery, competing against entertainment services using subscription models, the press’ business model is not viable.

We design Paperview to try and solve this paradox.

“Readers mean revenue even if they do not subscribe.”

What problems does Paperview solve for both readers and publishers, and how?

We believe Paperview is a rare case because it adds value to both publishers and readers. Paperview is a game changer for readers by helping publishers in making access to diverse quality information casual and affordable.

Paperview opens a new revenue stream for publishers, allowing them to sell content to readers that do not subscribe, including subscribers to other publications.

Paperview’s tools help publishers in the construction of stronger connections to readers, resulting in better odds of reaching a subscription. Paperview opens the spectrum of transactions that publishers can offer their readers. It is a marketing tool as Paperview’s options help Publishers build a relationship with readers, hopefully leading them to a consensual subscription.

But readers are a source of revenue all the way along the acquisition process. And readers mean revenue even if they do not subscribe, even when they stop subscribing. Readers are a source of revenue even when they subscribe to other outlets!

This is a game changer in a winner-takes-all business.

Who have you worked with so far?

As a startup entering a crystalized market, championing disruptive ideas that question the basics of a business model that even Google promotes (GNI), the path is naturally made of rocks. We had early support from relevant personalities in the Portuguese news industry.

Then we crossed paths with João Palmeiro, president of the Portuguese Press Association (API). João and the Association played a key part in us establishing some credibility and reaching several publishers. Firstly, in the more accessible regional and local press market. Luckily, we came across visionary people, true heroes of the local press who work in selfless, volunteer grade, makeshift conditions. We helped them vamp up their news websites and supported the integration effort. In return they were our beta testers, helping us fine tune Paperview’s works and feel. Recently, these newspapers helped us tackle another huge problem to many publishers: their subscription PDFs are pirated instantly as they reach subscribers. Paperview now allows publishers to provide access to editions in html and not PDF. This novel approach protects content from being freely pirated but also allows Publishers to sell isolated content, generating more revenue from each edition.

We praise and thank namely o Setubalense, Linhas de Elvas, Diário do Sul, Região de Águeda, Azemeis.net, Postal do Algarve, Trevim, and a publisher featuring several publications, CodigoPro, for their bet.

“Publishers are so focused on selling subscriptions, only subscriptions, that they missed the fact that most consumers cannot or do not want to subscribe.”

What are your thoughts on how the media industry can build diverse and sustainable revenue streams? Is there an opportunity publishers are missing out on?

Publishers are so focused on selling subscriptions, only subscriptions, that they missed the fact that most consumers cannot or do not want to subscribe. The grey tones are missing in today’s black and white online media business world.

Financial sustainability will happen only when publishers adapt to how readers can or wish to pay for content.

At Paperview, we believe that what publishers are missing is the rich variety of business opportunities between free to read and a full subscription. Why not sell today’s newspaper edition in the news website? Why not sell access to the sports or the cooking sections? Why not sell access to that article someone clicked to read on Facebook? In a media group, why not sell themes like “Germany” featuring content from the travel magazine, from the economy newspaper, from the politics section, together as one package? Why not sell a three days pass close to the elections? Or a Covid or Ukraine War monthly pass? Why not sell all content from one author? Why not offering upgrades to readers after a certain number of articles is bought? Paperview even offers one click impulse content purchases, à la Amazon.

What we know is missing is so relevant, that we believe Paperview’s rich business model can double the value of today’s online publishing market.

In one phrase, the press must go back to selling content to readers, in the ways readers can or wish to buy content…

“Why not sell access to the sports or the cooking sections? Why not sell a three days pass close to the elections? Or a Covid or Ukraine War monthly pass?”

What does the next year look like for you at Paperview? What are you excited about?

Based on signals from the industry I believe that Paperview will grow exponentially. At Paperview, we believe that we all need a strong, independent, and accessible online media industry.

We also believe that this will only happen when Paperview and other innovative business solutions are widely adopted, expanding, and complementing the subscription model. And we foresee it happening soon, gradually, but picking up pace…

Also, we see a global crisis growing, events like Covid, the war in Europe, the climate emergency and all the terrible events it brings with it, along with the growing shortage of paper that will hit the print press hard, and we know that these will make online Publishers increasingly relevant in the next years.

As I said, Paperview is a cause as it is a business. We are a team of mature professionals, and we share a kind of sense of mission at Paperview. We are not kids craving for sports car, dreaming of becoming millionaires or anything like that. We have already seen a lot, lived a lot…

But what really excites me is the chance of Paperview contributing in a tangible way to make things a bit better to our world in the next few years.

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