Business model for ITConversations

Doug Kaye is Doug Kaye is how to make his very reputable ITConversations podcast website actually bring in money.

For me, ITConversations is the only podcast that I listen to reliably as I listen for content, not entertainment. Pop!Tech series were absolutely riveting, especially and BioMimicry.

So, following is my idea which I was thinking about for a while and can see having worth beyond one site’s commercial success.

The idea is based on having paid subscribers who then get to vote on the show they want to hear.

Following is a sample use case:

  1. I join ITConversations and pay $X deposit (say $20).
  2. At some point later, I find that I really want to hear (for example) Tim O’Reilly’s views on podcasting. Or maybe I listened to a Memory Lane and want a follow-up on specific issues. Or I may want an interview on the state of the art of Machinima, which is just entering global consciousness.
  3. I create a request item and commit $Y of my deposit to it.
  4. The request goes to a vote with the other paid subscribers. They can discuss it and hopefully commit some of their own funds to it as a vote.
  5. Once the total amount reaches the threshold, site owner (Doug) accepts the request and effectively makes a sale for future podcast.
  6. When the show is produced, it is available to the people who committed funds to it.
  7. The sponsored show may also enter general availability some time later (or be available at nominal cost to the other subscribers)

There are several advantages to this model:

  • There is no need for micro-transactions for each vote, as they are pre-aggregated by the deposit and can be managed via top-ups mechanism
  • Since the money is already paid, the perceptual barrier of entry (for vote) is easier.
  • Voting means that the topics selected will be user-driven and more timely than trend spotting.
  • If the sponsored show is only available to subscribers (even for free), it makes it very enticing to join, which requires some deposit. And once the deposit is made, it is easier to vote. This creates a positive feedback loop with more cash throughput.
  • Community around voting and discussion (which could be made public) will keep people coming back over and over again.
  • Advertisers will love seeing the vote results and perhaps target the ads at the specific subjects being discussed.
  • Money paid as deposit are transferred before being used up and therefore earn the percentage from early on.
  • Finally, once the system is implemented, it can be used for features requests and other website work that requires a confirmed commitment rather than bluesky ideas.

There are obviously some difficulties to resolve, such as amount thresholds, clear topic selection and satisfaction of paid content. But they are all solvable, at least in a long run.

I would be happy to answer further questions on this idea, if anything is not clear.

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