Micropatronage with ads, no cash

By Steve Outing

I’ve got yet another “micropatronage” service to tell you about. But while the other ones I’ve written about in recent months have the online user voluntarily ponying up some cash to support the websites and blogs that they visit or like, or the articles they value most — Kachingle, Contenture, Inamoon, Payyattention — this one lets the user financially support a website simply by voting “like” or “dislike” on articles. No money is extracted from the user’s wallet.

BeneVote, a new service in beta from a Silicon Valley company called Twixa, describes itself as “The sponsored voting widget for newspapers, blogs, and more.” The concept is quite simple, yet for all the writing I’ve done and thought given to micropatronage or voluntary financial support for websites and blogs, my mind hadn’t yet veered into the territory of “the user pays nothing.”

Here’s how BeneVote works: Website or blog publisher installs the Benevote widget, which adds a voting box at the bottom of each article. The user mouses over the BeneVote box and selects either “I like it” or “I don’t like it.” Clicking to vote then displays a small pop-up box that says, “Your votes help sponsor this site. Thanks!”, followed by an ad. (For now, it’s a Google AdSense text ad.)

You can probably guess the rest. Twixa counts the votes per participating site and takes the advertising money it earns from the pop-up boxes, subtracts its own percentage to operate the BeneVote service and earn a profit, and splits it among all the publishers based on how the vote-clicks are distributed.

BeneVote is touted as working alongside other micropatronage services. So a news site, say, could use Kachingle and earn money from “Kachinglers” who decide to financially support the site with a portion of their monthly $5 Kachingle payment, and also use BeneVote to earn money.

A side benefit, of course, is that BeneVote gives publishers feedback from readers about its content, though it’s pretty crude: A reader either “likes” or “dislikes” an article. Readers can see how other readers voted.

As with all the other micropatronage services I’ve written about, BeneVote is unlikely to “save journalism” or have website or blog publishers swimming in free cash. But it’s yet another revenue source to add to the stew. We’ll have to wait and see how well it works (as with the others listed above).

One last interesting tidbit about BeneVote: It’s being developed by the same team that created BitPass, the micropayments and paid-subscriptions service for digital content that’s been used by such companies as Microsoft, Disney, and Ziff-Davis.

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!