The business platform for digital media

Daily Detroit: doing good in a city rising again!

Oct 29, 2015
Piano news

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The Daily Detroit is a super-smart website dedicated to bringing all the news about what’s hip and cool happening in Detroit to those who live there, those who used to live there and to those who are hoping to move there because it’s one of the most affordable and happening cities in America today. The website is open, all content is freely available, but they use Piano’s software to run their membership program that supports editorial production for as little as $3.13 per month. A pretty sweet deal all things considered. If you live in Detroit support this excellent organization by becoming a member!

Greentech Media launches Piano VX Payment Platform

Oct 01, 2015
Industry trends

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Greentech Media delivers business-to-business news, market analysis and conferences that inform and connect players in the global clean energy market. Coverage extends across the clean energy industry with a focus on solar power and the electric utility market’s evolution. Greentech Media’s industry-leading coverage is provided by world-class journalists and a global network of expert contributors, supported by a team of analysts from our market intelligence arm, GTM Research. Piano is happy to welcome Greentech to the growing number of B2B publishers who are using our VX software to monetize their incredibly valuable and informative content.

iOS9, A Quiet Start to a Very Big War

Sep 18, 2015
Industry trends

Apple announced iOS9 in June to relatively little fanfare outside the tech/Apple geek bubble that it occupies. Buried deep within that June announcement that only a few in our industry actually cared about, was the revelation that Apple was going to allow developers to start coding ad blocking software, at a systemic level, for mobile Safari. The reaction, outside of the very few people who follow the paid content industry, was, “meh.”

But it’s not “meh,” because, as Nilay Patel pointed out in his article today on The Verge, there is a very good reason Apple wants to promote ad blocking, and it has NOTHING to do with making a user’s experience better on his iPhone. Every since Google ripped off the iPhone operating system for Android, Apple has been mad as hell at Google in spite of Eric Schmidt sitting on Apple’s board. In fact, Schmidt was forced to resign in 2009 because Steve Jobs was so angry at Google for stealing his ideas, just like Jobs was angry at Bill Gates for stealing Windows from the Mac GUI. Both Windows and Google won the battle initially, but Apple smacked down Microsoft and now they are taking aim at Google.

Google makes a huge amount of money from their DFP ad server that serves ads to basically every single major publisher. And on top of that, Google runs a programmatic ad exchange server called AdX that serves the ads that follow users all over the web. Now Google uses these two servers to push ads not only to desktop, but to mobile as well, and as everyone knows, mobile advertising revenue is growing exponentially. Therefore, by prohibiting those ads from being served by Google, and with the user’s consent (Apple absolves itself of harm to Google here, the user makes the choice to download ad blocking software and install it on his mobile device), Apple is taking a shot at Google’s future revenue.

Considering the amount of bloat that gets loaded in the background while surfing the web, it’s no wonder people will certainly happily install ad blockers to clean and speed up their mobile browsing experiences. However, as Patel also points out, when they do so, the livelihood of smaller publishers is threatened because their life’s blood, advertising, is going to rapidly diminish to nothing. What Patel does not say, though, is that Apple is forcing publishing disruption upon the mobile browsing world.

Think about this: since the Netscape browser came onto the scene in 1995, advertising has paid for content. And users, some whom weren’t even born when Netscape was the dominant web browser, have assumed that content has always been free. And, programmatic advertising has led to the rise of some really really terrible websites, sites that do nothing more than put up fallacious headlines, stolen articles,  listicles and other vacuous content that only attract page views and generate CPM revenue. What benefit did content producers ever get from these sites? None, in fact, they were harmed by these sites because these content vampires generated so many CPMs, the cost of the CPM went down and content generators, sites like local newspapers and magazines, were forced to show more and more ads at lower cost to maintain revenue.

The result: in a huge number of cases publishers cut staff, quality went down, site real estate was filled with more programmatic advertising and the reader suffered. And there we sat. Until now.

How does this shake out? Well, if Apple has the influence it thinks it has and coders write systemic ad blocking software that’s so effective no ads from Google get served within the Apple ecosystem (and by the way, there is ad blocking software available for Android mobile devices as well), publishers will suffer.

Or will they?

Publishers who create original content valued by their audience, are in an incredible position and have just been perched atop the content pinnacle by Apple.

There are two ways publishers can approach the paradigm shift, either throw up their hands and say they are getting screwed by the biggest companies in the world or, they can embrace the change, deferring to their users who want their privacy respected and mobile data plans un-abused. Just because a digital audience doesn’t want to see ads and be tracked, that doesn’t mean they don’t want to support the industry, it could mean they want more control and choice. So why not give them what they want?

Piano is on the side of the publisher, we have enhanced our industry-leading business platform for digital media, Piano VX, with the capability to embrace, rather than reject, those using ad blocking software. Piano VX can detect users with ad blocking software installed and engage them with a brand experience like asking them to view a video ad in exchange for 72-hour access or ask them to pay to receive an ad-free experience all year. There are other options available with VX as well, but the point is to leverage our platform to offer and engage users with something they are happy to do that will allow you to monetize them in slightly different ways. The point is, publishers can’t sit on the sidelines and hope that everything will be all right, because it won’t.

Piano is not an ad blocking startup. We’ve been handling registrations, customizations, subscriptions, analytics and revenue reporting for many of the biggest names in media around the world for more than five years.  It’s our mission to help publishers build dedicated audiences and sustainable revenues.

Perhaps this latest skirmish between Apple and Google will be the last event that will ever threaten the advertising-only business model for premium digital content. But if you believe, like Piano does, that building loyal audiences is the only way for content companies to succeed, we would love to hear from you.

After all, in the end, technology won’t save publishing. Readers will.

Funke Media Group’s Bergedorfer Zeitung rolls out Piano Platform

Sep 15, 2015

Building upon our success from last week, Piano is super excited to announce that Germany’s third largest publisher, Funke Media, has launched Bergedorfer Zeitung on our platform. Piano is going from strength to strength as more and more publishers realize that their readers, those who love their newspapers and magazines, are going to be the real saviors of the industry. It’s nice to see publishers embracing this concept again. Below is Funke’s press release in German.


FUNKE MEDIENGRUPPE baut ihre Bezahlangebote im Internet aus

ESSEN / HAMBURG, 11.09.2015. Die FUNKE MEDIENGRUPPE erweitert ihre Bezahlangebote für Nachrichtenportale im Internet und treibt damit ihre digitale Vertriebsstrategie voran: die zu FUNKE gehörende Bergedorfer Zeitung / Lauenburgische Landeszeitung in Hamburg ist mit einer Paywall gestartet. Zum Start müssen sich die Leser registrieren, ab November wird das Angebot kostenpflichtig. Umgesetzt wurde diese Lösung mit dem Paywall-Anbieter Piano Media.

„Die Erweiterung der FUNKE-Paywall-Infrastruktur soll den Vertrieb unserer digitalen Inhalte weiter optimieren“, sagt Jochen Herrlich, Geschäftsführer von FUNKE DIGITAL. „Wir haben gelernt, dass datengesteuerte und zielgruppen-affine Paywall-Lösungen deutlich besser auf die Kundenbedürfnisse zugeschnitten sind. Mit der Technologie von Piano haben wir gute Voraussetzungen, unsere Paywalls sukzessive zu optimieren und auf das individuelle Kaufverhalten unserer Nutzer auszurichten“, sagt Jochen Herrlich.

In der FUNKE MEDIENGRUPPE verfügen zudem die Angebote vom Hamburger Abendblatt, dem Braunschweiger Zeitungsverlag, der Berliner Morgenpost und der Mediengruppe Thüringen über bezahlpflichtige Inhalte. „Wir vertreiben unsere redaktionellen Inhalte über zwei Wege: zum einen Markengebunden über Paywalls, Apps und ePaper, zum anderen über markenungebundene Angebote wie Readly, Blendle, iKiosk oder Sharemagazines“, erläutert Jochen Herrlich.

Mit der Einführung der Bezahlangebote bei der Bergedorfer Zeitung / Lauenburgische Landeszeitung wird die Paid-Content-Strategie, die das Hamburger Abendblatt bereits erfolgreich verfolgt, fortgeführt.

Im Zuge der Einführung der Bezahlangebote wird die Zahl lokaler und regionaler Beiträge auf dem Portal deutlich steigen. In den ersten zwei Monaten müssen Nutzer für den Zugriff kein kostenpflichtiges Abo abschließen, sondern können sich unverbindlich einmalig registrieren. Ab dem 1. November ist der Zugriff für alle kostenpflichtig. Die Nutzer können dann zwischen folgenden Angebots-Paketen wählen: Ein Tagespass kostet 0,99 Euro, ein Monatsabo 9,99 Euro, ein 3-Monatsabo 26,99 Euro und ein Jahresabo 99,99 Euro. Print- und ePaper-Abonnenten erhalten das Monatsabo zum Preis von 5 Euro.

Esquire Classic joins Piano’s Crescendo of Publishers!

Sep 11, 2015

For the second time this week Piano welcomes another iconic national brand into the fold, Esquire Classics from the Hearst Corporation. Subscribers to Esquire Classics will be entitled to read anything that Esquire has ever published – more than 50,000 articles from 10,000 issues!

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Founded in 1933 the magazine has long focused on men’s fashion and excellent fiction with contributions from American authors like Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald among others. Additionally Esquire helped pioneer the trend towards “new journalism” with pieces from Norman Mailer, Gay Talese and Tom Wolfe.

Now, for only $4.99 a month, subscribers can re-read these excellent authors and more. All current issues will be included into an Esquire Classics subscription and  be available for reading as soon as they are released.

Piano couldn’t be more excited and proud to be working with Esquire.