Grou.ps Launches LoveBucks, A New Subscription-Based Monetization Platform For Online Publishers

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Making money in the online content business isn’t always easy, especially for publishers and bloggers who don’t have huge audiences. Besides advertising, there aren’t too many options for online publishers and even though it looked like micropayments would offer a solution a few years ago, they never caught on with the public. Today, the white label social networking service Grou.ps is taking a stab at solving this problem. It’s launching a new program called LoveBucks that allows users to buy a monthly subscription (starting at $2.95/month) and then lets them spend this money by clicking on the LoveBucks widgets on sites that sign up for the program.

The company tested this service on Grou.ps for the last month and is launching it out of beta today. The launch partners include SFGate (which should be live very soon) and developer community Sitepoint. The money LoveBucks collects is split three ways: the first 60% got to sites that that have received clicks in a given month, 30% is provided as residual for as long as a publisher is part of the program and 10% goes to LoveBucks itself.

For publishers, Grou.ps says, LoveBucks provides another avenue to establish a revenue stream without sacrificing a lot of real estate on their sites. Instead of just a Facebook ‘like,’ after all, LoveBucks’ users reward publishers with real money.

It’s an interesting concept, though it does sound a bit like the approach read-it-later service Readability took a few months ago. There, too, users could buy a monthly subscription and Readability would then divvy the money up between publishers based on how often users saved their articles on the service. Readability shut this service down earlier this month. While enough readers signed up for the service, it couldn’t find enough publishers to also sign up and almost 90% of the money it collected went unclaimed.

LoveBucks, it seems, is avoiding these issues by automatically sharing all its money with publishers every month, but the success of this program obviously depends on getting enough publishers and users to sign up for it.