VR, CLV, Micropayments and Yahoo+

no April Fool's though...

Given that every day there is announcement of a new subscription product from an unexpected industry, I only briefly toyed with with idea of an April Fool’s story today - also as VW found out you can be too clever. So no need to be wary about what you read below and if it’s not humorous lets’s hope it’s informative.

Virtual reality film driving subscriptions

Trust me this is not an April fool - The New Yorker produced its first virtual reality film focusing on the plight of the Uighur’s in Chinese detention camps. According to Monica Racic, digital director of The New Yorker, the landing page for the film has driven 16x subscriptions than any other content. Before everyone rushes to create VR content - the technology isn’t the point, it’s not used in a gimmicky way. Instead VR here helps to properly tell the story.

Why is this important? Hero or Cornerstone content has been a subscription driver for video streaming. It’s clear it can work for other subscription services as well. This is not about the technology - it’s about an important story really well told. Read more.

Are you calculating customer lifetime value correctly?

Wharton marketing professor Peter Fader believes most people are being lazy when it comes to calculating CLV. Professor Fader argues that we oversimplify CLV - the first mistake being to think that we can calculate it, when in fact we can only ever estimate it.

Why is this important? We need to understand how much each customer is or can be worth to:

  • find our most valuable customers and then search for customers with similar traits

  • be sure we’re spending the right amount on customer acquisition

  • use the channels that bring the most valuable customers

The approach is summarised well here if you have a data analyst pass it to them. This is a refined approach to CLV, if you can do this it will make a real difference. But even a basic awareness of CLV is better than none at all.

Can micropayments convince people to pay for content?

The former founder and CEO of Waze, Noam Bardin is launching a new start-up called Paygo Media. The company is developing a platform where readers will pay per article they read on any outlet for just a few cents per story. Users will have to create a Paygo account and deposit funds. Their Paygo account will unlock paywalled content. The key is that after the initial account set up there is no ongoing friction eg no need to sign in. Paygo will offer a seamless reading experience.

Why is this important? Micropayments are not new. Lots of content creators have tried them. They’ve mostly failed because of the friction involved. If Paygo could gain scale, this might succeed. Will enough publishers be willing to participate? Does this dilute the value of content? How many participants can be in the value chain? Is the ultimate version of this cutting out the publisher and establishing a direct means for writers to be rewarded? Read more.


If the plus symbol has now become a shorthand for “pay for access” then Verizon Media’s organisation / rebranding of its media products in a portfolio to be called Yahoo+ might make sense. Yahoo has already begun this process offering subscriptions for Yahoo fantasy, finance, email and for TechCrunch with ExtraCrunch.

Why is this important? As Axios notes Verizon originally bought Yahoo to create a huge advertising network powered by all the data points users across platforms would generate. This hasn’t played out hence the shift to subscriptions. What Verizon has is enormous scale watching how they approach subscriptions will be insightful. Read more.

Quick links

Music streaming ARPU fell last year, despite a 23% increase in people signing up for streaming services. Not entirely sure about the validity of the calculation but there is some interesting data.

Spotify is acquiring Betty Labs who have developed a live audio app Locker Room. LockerRoom is essentially Clubhouse for sports fans. Live audio is booming, the technology isn’t difficult and there are a number of white label services out there. Facebook, Twitter and Slack all have or launching live audio services.

Subscriptions and loyalty in travel are the dual themes of a new conference from Skift.