Several attempts have been made with varying degrees of success to implement micropayment systems. None have really met the needs of consumers who want convenience and anonymity, so a Melbourne-based company has approached the problem from a completely different perspective.
Pico-Pay works on the assumption that content providers want to be paid for their material, advertisers are prepared to pay to reach their target audiences, and users value content even if they aren't prepared to subscribe to a site or accept pay-per-view charges.
Imagine a provider wants to charge 50 cents for access to a piece of content -- it could be a music track, material from a newspaper archive, or anything else that can be Web delivered. Pico-Pay presents the user with a list of advertisements and the credit offered for viewing each one. These ads are presented using normal Web technologies and may be single pages or a collection of hyperlinked material. The trick is that the ad must be displayed for a certain period of time (perhaps 20 seconds) before the user receives credit, encouraging exploration by the user.
Once sufficient credit has been accumulated by watching ads, the 'real' content is delivered to the user. The advertiser pays for the delivery of those ads, and the publisher receives payment for the content.
"We are very excited about making the Pico-Pay service available on the Internet," Pico-Pay's manager Con Zymaris said. "We believe it to be uniquely and genuinely in a position to assist struggling Web-site publishers generate real revenue for their efforts, and give the advertising industry the management, auditing and value that they have sought from the Internet for so many years."
Advertisers can target consumers according to specified categories and interests, and are guaranteed 100 percent click-through rates on all their advertising, Zymaris explained.
The system provides publishers with a minimal-maintenance hosted gateway for selling premium content to generate more revenue than is possible with other approaches, he added.
A free trial of Pico-Pay is available to advertisers, publishers and users until midyear.