Alexander Klöpping is founder of Blendle, a successful iTunes-like system for journalism from The Netherlands, backed by The New York Times and Axel Springer. Klöpping is a former columnist for Holland’s biggest youth newspaper and expert for Holland’s most popular TV talk show. He made a documentary series on Silicon Valley in 2012.
Klopping will speak at NAA mediaXchange 2016 on Monday, April 18 at 9:30 a.m. during the session “Pay-Per-Article: Will Micropayments Go Macro.”
1. What drew you to working in news media?
I started working for a financial blog when I was still in university, and became tech expert on Holland’s biggest talk show. But, I got worried for the future of our industry when I realized that none of my friends were paying for journalism, and all of them were installing ad blockers. That’s when we decided to launch Blendle.
2. Tell me about your experience bringing Blendle to the US.
It has been really great. We get to work with an amazing range of some of the most prolific publishers in the country, and we’ll start to work with a whole lot more soon. We got an enormous amount of media and interest from users. We launched Blendle in beta, which means that there are quite a bit of people (20,000+ as of now) on a list, waiting to get access. We’re working as hard as we can to let everybody in.
3. What is the most exciting thing you are currently working on?
I’m really interested in what the balance in the business model for journalism should be — how much should be ad-driven, how much micropayment and how much subscription. I think it will be a mix and that we’ll start seeing more people paying for content on the web, as it gets more common and easier. Currently we’re looking at ways to help publishers sell content (via micropayments and subscriptions) on Blendle and their own properties and the first results are very promising.
4. What’s the most surprising thing you have learned in your time exploring how to create a successful pay-per-story platform?
We’re trying to do something that’s quite hard: making it easier for people to discover and support great journalism, while a lot of people are used to free content. We really approach everything from the user’s perspective, so we ask ourselves: how would we pay for journalism? We thought: what if there was a one-stop shop that has journalism from the best sources, filters out all the clickbait, makes it really easy to find the articles that I’ll enjoy most and makes it extremely easy to pay for it (while being able to ask my money back if I didn’t like what I read) — if that one-stop-shop existed, we would pay for it. That’s what we did. We just built something we like to use, approaching everything from the user’s perspective.
5. How do you see the future of news media?
Most traffic will always go to the basic news, and that will probably be ad supported. The question is: how do we support the stories that journalists get to spend more time on — the background stories, the analysis, the great opinion pieces, the big interviews and profiles. The stories that tell you the ‘why’ instead of the ‘what’. I think platforms like Blendle will play a big role in this, just like Spotify has for music and Netflix has for movies.
Five Answers is a weekly series that features a member of the newspaper industry answering five questions. If you’d like to participate, email Kirsten Ballard.