IgnitionDeck Introduces Platform for New Publishing Model

Share Article

“Subramp” lets subscribers pay more for earlier access to time-value content, or less for later access

IgnitionDeck, a provider of WordPress-based business solutions, is currently testing a first-of-its-kind monetization platform for online publishers. Unlike traditional paywalls, which many publishers have abandoned or avoided, a “subramp” offers subscriptions at a price determined by the user. The more they pay, the sooner they gain access to each new piece of content once it is published. For example, you can pay $30 per year to see new articles the instant they’re published, $20 per year to see them one week later, or any other price between $0.01 and $30 depending on how much you want earlier access. All content eventually “times out” to zero, at which point it publishes openly.

Subramp is aimed at publishers of content that has some time-sensitivity, rather than content for which freshness is irrelevant. “Pricing subscriptions variably based on access latency is a simple and natural idea, and it isn’t entirely clear why people haven’t tried it,” says Paul Spinrad, manager of the Subramp joint venture with IgnitionDeck. “The paywalls and metered “leaky” paywalls that some publishers have implemented, and not always successfully, adhere to a fixed-price, subscription-card mentality from the days of print and postage.”

For trade newsletters and others who charge their subscribers relatively high prices, Subramp lets publishers monetize from potential readers who aren’t willing to pay full price. For bloggers and others who don’t currently charge anything, Subramp creates a revenue stream from the most devoted followers, while still letting non-payers read everything free later. The platform lets publishers offer content that is both subscription-based and (later) free, and won't be missed by search engines.

Linear and Logarithmic Curves

Under the hood, Subramp supports two types of “subscription ramp” price-decay curves: linear and logarithmic. The simpler linear subramp works exactly like a regular subscription, giving people immediate access to new content for a specified monthly or annual price. But it also supports subscriptions at lower levels that deliver the content after a corresponding delay. Publishers define their linear subramp function using two variables that let them set any maximum subscription price and make the price decline as slowly or quickly as they want.

With the logarithmic decay subramp, there is no maximum subscription price. If you plot the curve with t (time) on the x axis and p (price) on the y, with t=0 being the moment of publication -- stay with us here -- the logarithmic curve is asymptotic to the y-axis. This means that no subscriber can access content at the instant that it’s published, but the price drops steeply soon after. High-paying subscribers can always outbid each other to gain slightly earlier access. At lower prices, the curve levels out to a long tail that lets subscribers access the content well before the general public. Publishers define the logarithmic subramp with three variables that give them full control over how fast the subscription price drops, how sharply it “elbows,” and how long it extends before it times out to zero.

The logarithmic subramp works best for publishers whose subscribers are competing with each other, or whose timely access to the content can impact the opportunities that others have. Examples include information about market investments, private or “pocket” real estate listings, and “closeout” retail deals with limited available quantities.

Behavioral Economics

Subramp pricing, whether arithmetic or logarithmic, gives the relationships between publishers and subscribers a different set of dynamics than traditional paywalls do, potentially benefiting publishers. For example:

  • Subscribers know the level that they chose to subscribe at. This incentivizes them to pay attention to and value your content once they gain access to it, to avoid having wasted their money.
  • Subramp subscribers will naturally think about exactly when each piece of content was initially published, which frames that first moment of publication as a significant event. They will wonder who saw it before them and who will see after, expending mental energy that further increases the content’s perceived importance.
  • A Subramp subscription has an extremely low barrier to entry. Potential subscribers know that even the most inexpensive subscription level will still give them the scoop on your content earlier than the vast majority, who won’t see it until it’s free. For a very small investment, a subscriber gets a jump on everyone else.
  • When low-end subscribers access new content, they may find that the higher-level subscribers, the “cool kids,” have already been there, done that, and possibly left any discussions behind. Or worse, they will be beaten out on things like hot investments, bargain closeout offers, and “pocket” real-estate listings. This will incentivize them to subscribe at higher levels, to avoid missing out. Since they’ve already subscribed and have an account, that’s no hurdle— now they can just to dial it up a bit.
  • High-end subscribers, who pay the most to see the content soonest, can report on it and discuss it publicly as a form of conspicuous consumption— and the sooner, the better. It’s the content knowledge equivalent of showing off the latest fashion or gadget, similar to the status that new hardcover books once conveyed.

In other words, Subramp can make it invitingly cheap to become a paid subscriber, but also create pressures that push low-paying subscribers into subscribing at higher levels.

Pre-Orders and Availability

IgnitionDeck is currently beta-testing the Subramp platform on an invite-only basis, and looking for publishers who are interested in the new pricing model, especially if they currently use Wordpress. Later this summer, Subramp will accept pre-orders for the launch of the product. Like other IgnitionDeck products, Subramp will support Stripe and Paypal as payment processors.

“We’re looking for people who want to give this a try,” explains Spinrad. “We’re designing Subramp to be easy to implement. The larger issue is re-imagining your business and gauging how your audience will play under its new rules.”

“We’re heavily invested in serving entrepreneurs of all types, including authors and publishers, who we think are largely underserved in today’s technology market.,” explains Nathan Hangen, co-founder of IgnitionDeck. “We think that this new publishing model will not only help authors better monetize their content, but will also serve to make media more exciting. We’re very excited about the opportunity to collaborate with media professionals and first-movers as we work together to re-invent and invigorate this space.”

About IgnitionDeck
IgnitionDeck, a subsidiary of Virtuous Giant LLC, is based in Apollo Beach Florida and develops the popular IgnitionDeck plugin and theme suite for WordPress. IgnitionDeck was the first plugin to enable self-hosted crowdfunding, and IgnitionDeck Commerce (IDC) offers an integrated suite of online business tools for fundraising, commerce, and content distribution. Over the past year IgnitionDeck has acquired the Fundify, Astoundify, and GIG themes and plugins, bringing all of the most popular crowdfunding tools for Wordpress under one roof.

About Paul Spinrad
Paul is a magazine and publishing industry veteran who recently helped launch Timeline. He previously worked as an editor for MAKE magazine and Wired magazine and as a software engineer for Advanced Decision Systems and ViewStar Corporation.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Paul Spinrad
+1 415-401-5769
Email >
Follow >
Virtuous Giant
Like >
Visit website