Newspapers Need to Get Readers’ Credit Cards On File

You probably know him as the eccentric Mavericks owner occasionally gets into arguments with refs. Look deeper, and you'll find he's an innovative mind with a potentially brilliant idea for newspapers.

You probably know him as the eccentric Mavericks owner who occasionally gets into arguments with refs. Look deeper, and you'll find he's an innovative mind with a potentially brilliant idea for newspapers.

Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and cable channel HD Net, is a billionaire entrepreneur for his ability to think outside the box and commit himself to new ideas.

And he may just have saved newspapers.

Cuban recently posted a blog post about why newspapers’ main priority should be getting their readers’ credit cards on file so that they will be more likely to make small content purchases based on convenience. He cites Amazon.com’s success with easy one-click shopping, and thinks that newspapers could essentially utilize the same system. By having readers’ credit cards on file, readers would only have to simply click on a premium content article (or video, audio, photo, etc.) and pay a small price to view it. Rather than sifting through special online packages, users could purchase the content they want and when they want it.

Cuban also points out how easy it would be to get readers’ credit cards on file. He suggests that newspapers offer small rewards — his example is a free local music download — if they register their cards. He says that readers are turned off by the prospect of entering credit card information and need some inspiration to do so.

Cuban is not alone is this idea of micro-payments. Some newspapers have already experimented with this form of payment, and now Google is trying to get on the bandwagon.

The main reason that this could work is that it plays on the public’s tendency to make impulse purchases. Ever been checking out at a grocery store and bought a candy bar because it was convenient and cheap? I previously thought I wouldn’t be interested in purchasing online content from newspapers, but I could see myself paying for low-price items that I really wanted to read if I already had my card on file. Does this change how you think of purchasable online newspaper content? If an article is only 50 cents, would you be willing to have your card on file so that you could conveniently purchase it if you wanted to?

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5 responses to “Newspapers Need to Get Readers’ Credit Cards On File

  1. I agree that the impulse purchase concept would be far more effective in getting people to purchase online content than most other ideas. I am a little skeptical about how simple Cuban makes this sound. I don’t think most people would fall for putting their card on file for a small music download.

    These aren’t young teenagers – these are adults who are hesitant to pay for something or even move towards paying for something they’re already receiving for free.

    I think this is a move in the right direction, but I don’t think it’ll be easy.

  2. Kudos, Mark Cuban.

    The idea makes perfect sense. Think of cell phone services. People read the news on their Blackberrys and iPod touches. They also buy and download tons of apps. I can see this system working in that realm by somehow charging users through the phone service.

    But on computers? That’s different — people are hesitant, like you said, to put credit card information online.

  3. Yes!

    I would be completely willing to put my credit card information online, as long as it was a secure server. I buy music from iTunes all the time — as do millions of other people who choose not to illegally download. I don’t see how putting credit card information into a computer is any less secure than putting it into a mobile phone.

    And another thing, wasn’t music a few years ago pretty similar to newspaper’s free content? Now iTunes is extremely successful because people make the small purchases. I think this business model makes perfect sense. Admittedly, there might be a few kinks along the way (there always seem to be with any new idea), but I think it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

  4. Convenience buys? Novel idea. Fifty cents for just one story, but the idea is just crazy enough to work. My biggest concern here is security. How will they keep hackers and scam artists at bay?

  5. I love this idea. I’m not completely into the idea of paying for my news yet, but if you put it into terms that I can understand–paying for articles like I pay for my iTunes music–I can definitely do that. I think this definitely appeals to our generation more than the generations before us, because having grown up with the internet, we’re more comfortable with sticking things like credit card numbers out on the web in order to quickly purchase the things that we want. I am slightly concerned about security, like Whitley, but I think if they follow in the footsteps of the iTunes store and sites like Amazon.com, this idea can actually work. And work well.

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