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MediaPass promises an online service for monetizing content

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MediaPass, a Southern California-based start-up, aims to solve one of the thorniest problems in online publishing—getting users to pay for content.

The vision of Matthew Mitchell, CEO and co-founder of MediaPass, is to provide content owners, from independent bloggers to large publishing companies, with a free, turnkey way to monetize their online content—video included. Mitchell plans to use his online subscription experience from consumer sites, such as Reunion.com (now part of MyLife.com) and Like.com, a visual fashion search engine purchased last month by Google.

Mitchell discussed a main advantage of MediaPass. “Publishers don't have to integrate MediaPass with any of their systems, so they can be up and running in a matter of minutes,” he said. “Our goal was to make it as easy as starting with Google AdSense, and we wanted it to be fully customizable for any publisher and work on any platform with any software and any code base.”

The system is free for publishers to use and install. “MediaPass is a monetization product, just like advertising,” Mitchell said. “We make our money through a revenue share that starts at 35% but scales down with large publishers.”

Mitchell said that MediaPass accepts payment through credit cards or PayPal, pays merchant processing fees and ensures compliance with online security standards. MediaPass handles database management, but Mitchell noted that the company isn't trying to take ownership of media companies' subscribers. “We need access to renew subscribers or shut off their service when their subscription ends,” he said. “As per our terms and conditions, the only people who have a right to market to them are us and the publisher.”

The publishers' console, which controls paid subscriptions, is designed to be self-service, but MediaPass account managers are trained to help publishers understand the ins and outs of the technology. Mitchell said they can also act as advisers on tactics such as choosing the content to place behind a pay wall.

Mitchell recommends that publishers experiment with the system by enticing the user with a piece of content, and subscription flows in the system are designed to do that. “One is an overlay that covers two-thirds of the page and dims the surrounding content,” he said. “There's enough room for the name of the article and the first sentence or two. There's also an area for you to type in your subscriber benefits.

“We also have an in-page flow that allows people to see the first few lines of the article before a prompt that tells them that they need a subscription to read the rest.”

Analytics-driven publishers can use the console to test three price points simultaneously to see which one performs best. “We also have a patented algorithm that does automatic price-point testing, generates sophisticated statistics and picks winners constantly,” Mitchell said.

Recognizing the critical role of capturing e-mail addresses for marketing and lead generation, Mitchell said that functionality is under development. Within two months, he expects to be able to offer publishers the capability to block access to content and require free registration. Shortly afterward, publishers will be able to customize the subscription form to offer free newsletters.

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