Service Monetisation: Should You be Held to Ransom?

Service Monetisation: Should You be Held to Ransom?

Imagine this for a moment.  You boot up your smartphone, tablet or desktop computer expecting to open your apps, your browser, your instant messages, your emails, but you cannot.  Well you can – if you submit a payment. Many payments.

What if your favourite social media apps: Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter demand a one off payment each of £100 for 12 months access?  What if your email provider wants £20? What about WhatsApp, iMessage and text services demanding £30? How would you feel?


Does Service Monetisation Make Sense?

“Commercially for the companies monetising the service, the charge may make sense,” explains Jonathan Guy, from Aqueous Digital, “but in a world where people expect free access to digital content and social media interaction, surely it would flop?”

Would you pay sums like the ones we hazarded a guess at, for continued access, or would you join in with a digital riot against service monetisation?

“In many instances, it is already happening,” explains Jonathan.  “We pay for in-app purchases, digital downloads and digital access to published media.”

“We’re accustomed to that, because digital providers have replaced the purchase of something physical like newspapers, magazines, compact discs, DVDs, with paid streaming, which is easier, cheaper and more convenient.”


Can Users be Held to Ransom?

You may have read that Photobucket has done just that.


“Unlike the big digital players who give sweeteners like notice of imminent charges, or trial memberships, or affordable monthly subscriptions, Photobucket made the internet froth with anger as a $399 (or £309) annual levy was launched, without any preamble”

Jonathan Guy, Aqueous Digital


Users found P500 errors on uploads to blogs, bulletins and auction sites.

“Many of the 100 million Photobucket devotees have used their service for 10 years and are obviously not impressed, accusing the Denver-based company of extortion.”


What Can be Learned from Photobucket?

Aqueous Digital featured in a BBC News article just recently where it was asked about media reaction:

“Photobucket could be said to have honourable intentions – it wanted its site to be ad-free and commercially viable, but its introduction of the charges were problematic.”

“If you’re looking to monetise a service, you need to strategise its introduction by including:

  1. Advance warning.
  2. Softer lead-in periods.
  3. Gradual introduction of charges.
  4. Listening to your customers.


No business wants to be accused of ransom demands or extortion.”

Whether Photobucket survives its service monetisation, commercially and reputationally, remains to be seen.


Marketing Aspects Magazine appreciates Jonathan Guy’s contribution to this article.  For more of Aqueous Digital’s views on this issue, please read their blog.