During the Renaissance, extraordinary achievements made by artistic visionaries such as Michelangelo, Da Vinci and Raphael were made possible by the patronage of institutions like the Catholic Church and wealthy families like the Medici. The Patronage model has funded some of the finest works of art, literature and scientific discovery in human history - giving artists, literaries and scientists the freedom to produce great work appreciated by their audience without the pressure to produce for mass market sale and profit.
In the mid 19th century the culture started moving away from patronage model into mass consumer centered models. Through the century, the model slowly shifted to museums, theaters, cinema and then television and finally to the Internet. It has nowadays deteriorated to the point where content creators revenues are directly dependent on advertising revenue. The traditional advertising model works reasonably well with mainstream content that succeeds at capturing millions of eyeballs. We are not generally discarding the mass market consumer tracking and paid attention grabbing attempts as non-viable monetization strategies, however we are questioning the viability of this practice for many.
The Pitfalls of Traditional Advertising
We believe there is a major inefficiency in the traditional advertising model design. The incentives between content creators, their viewers and advertisers are inherently misaligned.
Rampant Ad Fraud
Various independent reports estimate that ad fraud (advertising revenue generated by botnets watching videos and clicking on ads) is as high as 50%, costing businesses billions of dollars in losses. Not surprisingly, advertising platforms generally don’t disclose any reports outlining the extent of the fraud.
Ad fraud is an incredibly hard problem to solve because as the fraud detection technology improves, so does the fraud-detection avoidance. It is a never ending game of cat-and-mouse.
Moreover, there is yet another inherent conflict of interest. Advertising platforms make money from commissions on the advertising dollars spent, and if they solved the ad fraud problem, it would deeply cut their revenues.
Viewly: By focusing on development of new monetization models, we avoid this incredibly hard problem of trying to fix the old system. It also gives us an opportunity to create and popularize new approaches to content monetization and value creation on the Internet.
Constant click-baits and distractions
One of the tragedies of the modern world is the “brain drain:” the smartest mathematicians, physicists and computer science graduates are being recruited by a few large enterprises to work on the machine learning algorithms used to manipulate our attention in order to increase ad revenue.
After spending some time on a popular content site, have you ever asked yourself: Who is making the decisions for what to watch next? Who is in control? Is it possible that you’re presented with a few options that give you an illusion of control?
1.) People’s time is being wasted if the platform is manipulating their attention to consume content that is not necessarily in their best interest, or consuming more content than originally intended.
2.) Quality content creators are treated as a commodity. There is no opportunity for deeper discovery and bonding, as viewers are being pushed around and force-fed (as implied by the previous point).
The Viewly platform does not suffer from the same misalignment of incentives, and as such, can use machine learning to best serve the viewers and their interests in a way that respects their time, preferences and desires, and connects them to meaningful content creators.
Poor interaction between creators and their fans
As mentioned above, viewers are being directed to new content by different creators with the intent of maximizing ad revenue. The fast delivery of diverse novelty exploits the biochemical process of dopamine release, which increases viewing watch time and ultimately ad impressions and clicks.
Many people complain about the quality of the “comment systems”. Our speculation is that the comments might be left hampered on purpose. After all, time spent in discussions is time spent not watching ads. Stopping to participate in a discussion would also likely cause discontinuations of binge watching patterns.
Viewly aims to be creator centric. Every creator gets a platform for building their tribe, their community. Viewly will focus on improving quality of content and meaningfulness of interactions. The economic models we are proposing thrive with positive community building
Modern Content Monetization
In this section we propose 3 models that respect users privacy, require no middlemen and encourage the formation of positive, self-organizing communities.
1. Frictionless Micropayments
The frictionless micropayment model is borrowed partly from a highly successful Patreon model and a Steem inspired voting model. The concept is that people want to support their favorite creators based on their own intrinsic motivations. We can further encourage this behavior by developing gamification and special perks for supporters.
This hybrid model gives us a good baseline mechanism to deal with rewards in the content abundant ecosystem. Individuals can support multiple creators at once without the mental overhead attached to traditional micropayments.
People are literally voting with their money. This changes a voting game from a tragedy of the commons to a honest popularity contest.
How does it work?
Each user has their own donation pool (virtual wallet). This pool is automatically distributed to creators on a pro rata basis, based on users past period upvoting activity.
Gamification and status symbols
One potential way of gamifying support for creators is to add flares, perks and other forms of extrinsic motivation to supporters.
We could also use the status of the supporter to increase their visibility to the creator and the rest of the community. For example, social networks like Reddit rank comments by net upvotes. This system however strongly favors comments that come in first, get the first upvotes and move the rest of the conversation into obscurity.
Instead of having time based privilege, we could rank comments by the net size of a commenter’s contributions to the creator and use community input (votes) to amplify the best replies, as well as filter spam.
2. Recurring Patreonage
Some authors may choose to create special content for their most loyal fans. A predicate for access in this case is a monthly (recurring) pledge.
The recurring pledge model is extensible to other types of value exchange as well.
Selling access to the content
We believe that selling content directly is not an optimal monetization strategy. It adds a lot of overhead, and most people won’t go trough the hassle of making a small payment to watch a video.
To make it more convenient for viewers, companies like Netflix and Spotify popularized subscription based models that unlock access to the entire catalogs. Furthermore, Humble Indie Bundle pioneered a Pay what you want model, where any amount above some minimum threshold unlocks the special tier of content.
We believe we can apply these principles to the Patreonage model. Fans can pledge any amount of tokens on a monthly basis to their favorite creators, and if the pledge is larger than a minimum set by the content creator (ie: $5/mo worth of View tokens), the access to special content and the creators inner circle is unlocked.
Value added economy
Content is abundant, but services, merchandise and other things are less so. Content creators could create Kickstarter like packages as up-sells to their most loyal fans.
For example, if a fitness and bio-hacking channel creates their own food supplement or a nootropic, they could send a package to their fans in exchange for a monthly pledge.
In the future we could expand the marketplace features to solve additional problems like crowdsourcing work, for example. Content creators could hire editors, designers, etc. through the network itself and pay for goods in native coin. The escrow model from sponsorships can be applied here as well.
3. Creator Delivered Endorsements
While the Patreonage model is the purest form of value exchange, with near perfect incentives alignment and a honest feedback loop, many creators today depend on sponsorships to keep their lights on.
We would like to provide a sponsorship option and encourage creators to select their sponsorship opportunities based on their understanding of, and alignment with their audience. We are assuming there is a better alignment of values between sponsors, creators and viewers when a creator actually creates the endorsement, since creators need to maintain a good relationship with their audience while simultaneously satisfying the demands of the sponsor.
The Viewly blockchain application will offer an on-chain escrow service (smart contract), that sponsors and creators will utilize once they agree on pricing structure and deliverables. Once both parties have delivered on their commitments, the transaction will be executed. The service will also be used for dispute resolution, to mediate re-negotiation for delivery of additional work, as well as offer the option for a partial or full refund. If disputes escalate, a trusted (elected) third party will be used as an arbitrator. The process will be fully transparent and open to community feedback.
Whom is Viewly for?
Viewly is a social video platform that enables creators to build a community of fans and converse with them in new and unique ways not possible on ad-based video platforms. It empowers fans to support their favorite artists and directly influence the content creation.
The traditional advertising may work for a small segment of the most popular creators, but falls short for everyone else. Our agenda is to build a platform that empowers smaller and larger creators alike, that would, if successful, yield higher quality interactions, better economic incentives and overall revenue.