I’ve been tossing the idea of micropayments around in my mind. For the purpose of this blog, I’m assuming that micr0payments include small purchases of $0.01 to $12.
Without a question, iTunes and Amazon have illustrated the increased revenue behind micro-payments. Obama successfully captured the interest of the masses by making it possible for them to donate to his campaign through micropayments. His micropayment technique garnered huge revenues, much to his competitors’ surprise who continued to have banquets and woo rich oil men.
Micropayment is all about making things accessible to the public in small amounts that are not easily tracked. Well, they are easily tracked, but they are so insignificant that the purchasers make them without thinking.
I have to say, I was pretty surprised how quickly a $100 gift certificate to my Kobo account was depleted. When so many books are between $5 and $10, it seems so easy to click and buy. The entire app world is simple. When my 80 year old father who had just been indoctrinated into the mysteries of sudoku visited, it was just a click to load up an app on my Playbook for him to mess around with. The price seems negligible when a book of puzzles costs somewhere between $5 and $10.
Angry Birds hit about $70 million in revenue in March and Bejeweled is already above that. These are nonsensical, repetitive, low-brain-use apps that we use to waste time. (We used to day dream). We are willing to buy them for less than a $1 — because after all, it’s only a fraction of the cost of a Starbuck’s coffee — and we can play them while we enjoy the free wifi at the coffee shop.
Understanding the power of the micropayment is really understanding the mass — it’s the most powerful direct marketing tool of the next generation.
But there are a few key components you have to meet to make them successful:
1. They have to be easy to purchase. Micro-payments can tolerate 2 clicks — no more.
2. They have to be something someone wants… OK we can argue that no one wants Angry Birds. But that’s really about the power of word-of-mouth and the peer pressure to be digitally cool. After all, if your kid’s friend’s dad lets them play Angry Birds, your kid will let you know, find the app on your phone and encourage you to click.
3. They have to be worth the price. $12 for a newly published book that is $39 in the book store is tolerable. $5 for a tune by a no-name band is not. But we may eek up our iTunes payment to $1.29 to get the latest by Bieber (Well, someone might….) You can purchase Gordon Lightfoot for $0.69.
4. Something — digital media, press, word-of-mouth, advertising — must carry the burden of getting the customer to the micropayment zone. Apple, Amazon, Black Berry App World all carry significant weight. Angry Birds is just noisy enough to capture the attention of customers. As apps proliferate, it will become more difficult to permeate the market. I would argue that the early days of easy wins for apps may be past.
Micropayments are only beginning. when our smart phones (and smart phone users) become more intuitive to purchases there will be many, many more applications. Let the imagination flow…