Documentary-film.net
Karsa Flash Payer

Karsa Flash Payer offers bait and switch model for video monetization

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Karsa Flash Payer offers a way for content creators to monetize their online video using a bait and switch model in which payment is only requested mid-viewing, once the user is already hooked. The service was developed by UK-based Steven Carroll, the guy behind Documentary-film.net, which came very close to entering the Deadpool after he found it difficult to generate enough revenue to cover the hosting and bandwidth costs of the site.

Instead of forcing the viewer to commit to paying up front for content that they may not yet consider worth their cash, Karsa allows for it to be viewable for free for a set amount of time, after which the video pauses and the user is prompted for payment. Once paid-for, playback of the video can be resumed.

All transactions are handled through PayPal, with any revenue generated going straight into the content owner’s account. Karsa charges a subscription fee for the service – from £9 per-month – which increases dependent on the total value of transactions.

Carroll says that he tried the traditional pay per-view model with Documentary-film.net but that this performed poorly compared to Karsa’s system, which saw sales increase by about 90%. “The reason simply being that people will only usually pay for something once they are hooked on it”, he says.

Karsa’s offering differs from other pay per-view systems, such as PlaySpan, in its payment model but also in that there are no barriers to entry for publishers or users (who aren’t required to sign up in advance), according to Carroll.

  • Samuel Ryan

    Interesting idea with a horrible implementation.

    For example, try out the demo video. It will say “4 minutes remaining” now open up the page source and select the URL for the embed (for me it’s http://www.karsa.co.uk/v/v.swf?v=x6r5rwv84j ) now go to this URL while the video is still running. Click “Play” in this window and bam, timer reset on the other video.

    This means that you can continuously reset the timer without ever needing to pay. For this to work properly there would need to be a system where after specifying the time the video is modified to only be that length. For example, if I want to let viewers watch the first 5 minutes of an 8 minute video, the system would cut the first 5 minutes out and then use that flv, keeping the full flv private.

    The idea is good, implementation is poor, also it really should support some sort of message when the time is hit, preferably it would be an extra video that could be triggered.

    • http://karsa.co.uk Steve

      Hi Samuel Ryan,

      This is actually a feature which I added – to allow the viewer to repeatedly watch the first part (which they have already watched once) again if needed, to ensure that you give potential buyers ‘every’ opportunity to get hooked.

      For example a user may pause it then reload the page and only get to watch 2 minutes the first time and 2 minutes the second, where really I want them to get all the way to the precise moment (4 minutes) that it is most interesting point to cut them off, and hence maximize the conversions.

      Also the FF and Rewind buttons are disabled during the free trial so they cannot game it by forwarding ahead of time.

    • http://karsa.co.uk Steve

      Hi Samuel Ryan,

      I have just checked further the hack you have highlighted and you was quite correct, that feature could have been used to game the system.

      I have disabled ‘feature’ that so a viewer is now limited to the total set amount of time for that video, period, without the possibility for repeatedly watching what they already had.

      I would like to thank you for your careful consideration and helping improve the Karsa Flash Payer.

      Best
      Steve

    • http://apples.snappl.es Forest

      I find it quite silly that the primary complaint here is one of semantics. Very interesting product, though I don’t have much use for it myself.

  • http://www.husseinz.wordpress.com Hussein

    it looks a great idea but I think the subscription fee will not attract many people… However lets try

  • Sagar

    Video publishers, profit from your content instead of given it away for free!
    there is a typo here in your english grammer.

    I want to setup a site of movie clips/trailers from indie firms. How could this be useful to my video aggregation site?

    cheers,

    Sagar

    • http://karsa.co.uk Steve

      Thank you Sagar, I have corrected that typo.

      If you wanted to charge your visitors for watching the content of your indie films this would be the perfect video player to use to do this. You can control as many films as you like from within the admin section which supports, overlay ads, stats and more.

      best
      steve

      • Sagar

        I will be building my site in Drupal Gardens/Drupal.

        May also be using Kaltura for open source video.

        Will Karsa be an straight on plugin for DG/Drupal for both of this?

        Like the idea. It is similar to the Times paywall. I mean this in a good way. The “quality” from the Times, is available elsewhere for free. With video, it is more unique, and if I do not like to first 4 minutes, I will not pay for the full movie.

        the fee I pay to watch full film; how many days access for this. Is this decided by the film provider?

      • http://karsa.co.uk Steve

        Sagar, I will not be making a special modual / plugin for Drupal or any other CMS because it is unnecessary.

        The concept behind this application is elegance, it is extremely easy to set up and use and you would simply embed video content which the karsa app provides (the embed codes) into any page which you produce in Drupal, be it a blog, article, main page, etc.

        With the Karsa video player, you can allow the user choices of 1 day access, 7 days, 3 months or 1 year. You can set any amount you wish for these viewing periods and you can choose the currency you wish to be paid.

        All sales go directly into your own Paypal account and users are NOT required to first register to make a payment!

        Check out the admin section and try it to get a real sense of how elegant it is.

        Best
        steve

      • Sagar

        Hi Steve,

        Is the Flash Payer owned by Karsa? Is it open source?

        Have you implemented Karsa on your docu site as an example?

        Thanks for all your assistance and will cruise Karsa.

        cheers, sagar

      • http://karsa.co.uk Steve

        Sagar I built the karsa flash player. It is not 100% the same as the code on doc-film-net but it is based on the same code.

        The code is not open source and all such code is fairly complicated thus open source ing it would provide little beneits for users. However, it is in beta and if you wanted further functions etc. suggest them and If they can implemented elegantly and be use to others I would be happy to consider including them.

        best
        steve

      • http://www.invideous.com Jack Thorogood

        Hi Sagar,

        If you want this (watch for free before paywall kicks in) functionality for Kaltura, please drop us a line. Our invideous.com platform has this functionality and works as a plugin for leading OVPs rather than as a standalone player.

        Jack

      • http://karsa.co.uk Steve

        @Jack Thorogood

        I just tried to check out your ‘in video commerce’ link
        http://invideous.com/#
        but there is no information about this? In fact when I click on the link it has no page just /# , is this a product you are offering some time in the future but not right now?

        Sagar,

        With Karsa my system does not need you to install third party plugins, especially for CMS like Drupal which are a serious pain when one wants to upgrade the main Drupal version; all plugins have to be removed for the upgrade (which is torture) then reinstalled and more often than not the plugins are not updated at the same time if ever, leaving you without the functionality of that plugin, thus forcing one to potentially continue with an insecure platform.

        With Karsa everything is 123, really simple, and easy to get started and for your own use and for your users. Your users don’t even have to register with you or other companies and all the funds go directly into your own Paypal account not some other companies…

        :)

      • http://www.invideous.com Jack Thorogood

        Our in-video commerce is different than our PPV proposition. Not quite sure what page you couldn’t find though, but they all seem to be in place.

        Re. plugin vs. player, I think you’ve missed the point about an application working as a plugin to an OVP rather than as a plugin to a CMS system like Dupral.

        This plugin (to OVP) approach means that publishers can stick with their existing video platforms rather than having to change platform just to get PPV functionality.

        Making PPV abilities the sole reason for a user to select a certain player type doesn’t really work as users expect all the other functionality that they get from an established platform such as Brightcove etc. I.e. a publisher using Brightcove can get all the functionality of that platform, and add PPV by using a third party plugin such as ours.

        This approach arguably makes more sense than a publisher adopting a player just because it can support PPV but which is unlikely to have all the other functionality of a leading platform.

      • http://karsa.co.uk Steve

        Jack Thorogood,

        The link is in your footer, under ‘publisher’, ‘in-video commerce’ which doesn’t work,

        Since you might have come into this conversation sideways, I think you have totally missed the point of the Karsa video player (maybe read the article and see the app).

        I have years of experience with pay per view (PPV). I claim pay walls are an ineffective method of charging for online content!

        The reason being people will not pay for something they are not already hooked on or have watched some potion off.

        My system allows publishers to set the time where they want the video to pause and ‘then’ demand payment for continued viewing.

        This cannot be done with any third party Open Video Platform (OPV), because it’s operation is integral to the player itself.

        So what it seems is that your offering a Pay wall system for any third party video player to Sagar and others, but I don’t see the need for any publisher to use a third party plugin to handle payments in this way, having to have a separate registration process no doubt (yet another hurdle) and to then have to wait for payments from that provider who no doubt will be taking a cut of sales.

        If any publisher wanted a pay wall system, it seems to me (unless I’m missing something here, they could simply just have their own registration system and use any payment system such as Paypal.

        Steve

      • http://www.invideous.com Jack Thorogood

        Steve,

        Didn’t mean to touch a nerve, or for this to become a product p**sing match; was just mentioning an option for Kaltura.

        …however on your point:

        “My system allows publishers to set the time where they want the video to pause and ‘then’ demand payment for continued viewing.

        This cannot be done with any third party Open Video Platform (OPV), because it’s operation is integral to the player itself.”

        Any decent platform’s API (so Brightcove’s, JW Player’s, etc) does let you set this. If you look at the post Steve O’Hear wrote about our v1 plugin a month or two ago (http://eu.techcrunch.com/2010/06/08/video-monetization-platform-invideous-scores-funding-launches-in-video-micropayments/) and play the video, you’ll see that I’ve set the paywall to kick in at 7secs.

        So this is a Brightcove player, with paywall set to come in at a specific time.

        Hope that helps.

        Jack

      • http://karsa.co.uk Steve

        Jack,

        Interesting. Though, I just tried your system and I was first required to register, (with Karsa registration is not required, and this is a put off if someone has already registered on the publishers site) then it asked for my credit card details and full address!

        Since this is a Flash widget, there is no mention of whether the data is sent over SSL (which I doubt? given it is flash after all) and if you’re PCI compliant or not?

        Nor no clear signal as to who is getting the card details? Is it some Russian?

        So I would argue that your payment system is a) not smooth because one has to register first, then put in full card details and address, b) probably not secure? and c) I take it the money is processed by you, thereby you’re taking a cut from sales? how much %% do you take (in total)? I’m sure this might be something publishers might think twice about…

        Also what your proposing (while technically possible), in practice a publisher would have to not only navigate the functionality of your plugin and application, but also have set up some rather complicated API functions for other players such as JWplayer to interact with your plugin,

        Sounds to me like it’s a complicated process to navigate and again I’m not sure this would justify your original claim:

        “This approach arguably makes more sense than a publisher adopting a player just because it can support PPV but which is unlikely to have all the other functionality of a leading platform.”

        Accordingly I would argue that the Karsa all in one approach arguably makes more sense.

        Since I intend to take the Karsa player in the direction of offering an affiliate program for all publishers, which will allow them to profit when other publishers place and sell their content in exchange for a % of sales, again it makes more sense to have an all in one system which is ultra elegant to use for both the users and the publishers while getting the job done without needing different plugins for every single feature.

        BTW the option on the demo link you posted, on your payment page, to pay via PayPal doesn’t work.

        Steve

      • http://www.invideous.com Jack Thorogood

        Thanks Steve.

        I’m not going to push the issue by going through your points one by one. Obviously our respective businesses have decided to take different paths here and I’m sorry you weren’t aware that most flash players allow the functionality you’re offering via their API.

        I guess only time will tell (in terms of user adoption) which is the most publisher friendly solution.

        KR,
        Jack

      • http://karsa.co.uk Steve

        Jack,

        Please don’t bail on me now, I am genuinely interested in how competitors different business models are working.

        I would appreciate it, and I’m sure Sagar along with other potential users would, if you could at least correct the concerns I had about the security issues, I.e, is data sent in the Flash plugin over SSL and are you PCI compliant?

        I’m sure others (along with me) would be also interested to know what percentages your asking from the payments (in total) from publishers sales.

        Steve

      • http://www.invideous.com Jack Thorogood

        Steve,

        This really isn’t the forum for giving a side by side product analysis. I haven’t tried to pick holes in your product and I won’t bother starting now.

        The only point I will clarify however is that it is easy enough to process credit card payments securely using Flash. There are a number of both open source and proprietary code libraries available for this, so whilst not common it isn’t unique.

        Jack

      • http://karsa.co.uk Steve

        Jack,

        Interesting, I’m always learning. :)

        Are you saying you’re sending the data securely with SSL encryption even though that video demo is placed on Techcrunch which is not using SSL? and also that you’re PCI complaint too?

        Or are you saying that it is ‘possible in theory’.

        Steve

      • http://www.invideous.com Jack Thorogood

        It is irrelevant whether the site the video is embedded in uses SSL or not.

      • http://karsa.co.uk Steve

        How strange, I guess most people are just miss guided then as they are under the ‘bizarre’ impression sensitive credit card data should only be posted over an encrypted network (i.e. SSL) else their data is not secure.

        I guess all these SSL high strength ciphers are unnecessary given your claims and companies investing thousands into PCI compliance and secure payment pages are missing the tricks you have up your sleeve…

        Mind you thank you for clarifying your security measures so clearly. However, as a consumer I assure you, I most certainly won’t be entering my credit card details over a NON SSL secured network to some company who is unrelated to the site I’m on.

        Steve

      • http://www.invideous.com Jack Thorogood

        By “it’s irrelevant whether the site the video is embedded in uses SSL or not” I meant exactly that, not that SSL isn’t used. Get a grip.

      • http://karsa.co.uk Steve

        Oh I did try to ‘get a grip’ but with your limited explanations, I gave up trying… However, instead of wasting your time here, maybe you should give those explanations to your own users with a link (which works) on your payment pages showing your PCI compliance and elaborate security measures.

        Maybe they will be able to ‘get a grip’ instead.

  • Dorian

    So Flash Player is not a trademark of Adobe?

    • http://karsa.co.uk Steve

      Dorian , Flash Player is of course, but Karsa has the Flash PAYer…

  • Azzam

    Thanks for coming back and responding on the post.

    OK to shoot you an email about some suggestions, also could give you a call since you in the uk.

    Azzam

    • http://karsa.co.uk Steve

      Azzam, Of course I’d be really happy to connect up.

      I can be contacted on skype as agentbleu or you can call +44 20 8133 7819

      Or you can just connect using the contact form on the site.

      Look forward to it.

      Soren, many thanks…

      best
      steve

  • Soren

    What an interesting paywall model – wonder if there are examples of newspapers having done something similar with online news content and what their experiance was?

  • http://www.keepwonderful.com/the-switch/ The Switch « KeepWonderful.com

    […] Instead of forcing the viewer to commit to paying up front for content that they may not yet consider worth their cash, Karsa allows for it to be viewable for free for a set amount of time, after which the video pauses and the user is prompted for payment. Once paid-for, playback of the video can be resumed.Read More […]

  • http://www.newscompilation.co.cc/details/the-switch/ Daily News Compilation » The Switch

    […] Instead of forcing the viewer to commit to paying up front for content that they may not yet consider worth their cash, Karsa allows for it to be viewable for free for a set amount of time, after which the video pauses and the user is prompted for payment. Once paid-for, playback of the video can be resumed.Read More […]

  • http://mapcut.com Dan

    I don’t see how this is “bait and switch”. You’re using that term incorrectly. This is the same as iTunes allowing people to listen to the first 30 seconds of a song and then paying for it if they want the entire thing. How is that bait and switch? It’s sampling and then deciding if you want the entire thing.

    Please correct your statement as I think it’s unfair to the makers of this product.

    Just my humble opinion.

    • Steve O'Hear

      It’s bait and switch in the nicest possible sense. You get to watch for free to get you hooked (bait) and then at some point (not always the same amount of time, so not the same as an iTunes 30 sec ‘sample) you have to pay (switch).

      But whatever.

      • http://karsa.co.uk Steve

        Well I’m sure people had best intentions but I actually liked the headline and didn’t take it as offensive or misleading. I make no apologies for the nature of the system, I have seen too many good video delivery providers fail due to insufficient business models and am only too happy to have developed a sustainable model where such publishers can actually survive and continue to provide the content they offer.

  • Jimmy The Rub

    LISTEN,
    This is a Great Step Foward… A Model.. Anything to Get All Revenue Away From Google/YouTube.. More Investors Need to Be Getting Into This Market.. What Ever Happened to Screen Jelly?

  • Cueball

    Agree that this is not “bait and switch”. Should be corrected.

  • Neil

    It’s not bait and switch, what is being switched??

    ….Fool.

  • Nikolas

    This is a fantastic idea.
    I been looking for somthing like this .

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