The Obstacle With MicroPayments.

As Marketing Pilgrim reported today, Google is now trialing a new micro-payment service.

The article, Would You Pay 50 Cents to Read This Post? Google Tests Micropayments for Content, starts by saying:

“People have always been happy to pay for newspaper and magazine subscriptions, as long as the words arrived printed on actual paper. Asking those same people to buy that same content in digital form is another story”

and goes on to raise an obvious question:

“What they’re building is iTunes for content instead of music. A song for $.99 is an impulse buy, a $9.99 album not so much. The difference is, we listen to songs over and over again. How many articles would you read more than once?”


What people are buying, when purchasing a newspaper or a magazine, especially traditionally, is not the information, OR it being ‘printed on actually paper‘.

They were paying for the access to information.

AND ALAS THE CURRENT PROBLEM facing online publishers…

… access to alternate pieces of “micro- content”, content only worth 50cents, is in abundance on the web.

Want to find out about different knitting yarns?

1] You can stumble across this page, probably from a google search, decide the information is worth 50cents to you, fumble through login/purchase process, and then consume the content.


2] You can stumble across this page, probably from a good search, realise they want to charge you 50cents, decide the time and effort to login isn’t worth 50cents, hit the back button, click the 2nd listing in the Google results, and then consume that content. 

As the author points out, iTunes is entertainment; and people are clearly willing to pay .99 cents for entertainment they can enjoy over and over again.

But information?

Most information is consumed once, and then internalised in the form of knowledge.

… and as I said, it was and still is the access to the information (for consumption and retention) that people are willing to pay for,

… only if made available in a (perceived) vacuum, without easily accessible alternatives.

It is this ‘perceived vacuum’ that is the true obstacle that online publishers need to overcome to make micro-payments succeed.


Pete Williams is an entrepreneur, author, and marketer from Melbourne, Australia.

Before being honored “Australia’s Richard Branson” in media publications all over the continent, Pete was just 21 years old when he sold Australia’s version of Yankee Stadium, The Melbourne Cricket Ground For Under $500! Don’t believe it? You will! Check out the story in the FAQ section (it really is our most asked question).

Since then, he’s done some cool stuff like write the international smash hit ‘How to Turn Your Million-Dollar Idea Into a Reality’ (+ the upcoming ‘It’s Not About the Product‘) and he’s created a bunch of companies including Infiniti Telecommunications, On Hold Advertising, Simply Headsets and Preneur Group.

Lots of other people think he’s pretty good too! He’s been announced as the Global Runner-Up in the JCI Creative Young Entrepreneur Awards for 2009, the Southern Region Finalist in the Ernst & Young 2010 Entrepreneur of the Year, and a member of SmartCompany’s Top 30 Under 30.

Download Pete’s First Book For FREE!

“Now that I've got the rights back from the publishers, if you enter your email address below, you can instantly download a free audiobook version of my first book, How to Turn Your Million-Dollar Idea Into a Reality.” - Pete
100% Secure ... We will NEVER sell or rent your details to anyone.