Press Plus

Press+ is being used by a 'handful' of UK publishers, including the Independent and Accountancy Age

Press+, an online paid-subscription mechanism for publishers to charge for metered access to content, is positioning itself to target the customers of the now-closed Google One Pass.

Google published a blog post late Friday saying that it was to close One Pass, its online payment platform for news outlets, just over a year after launch.

Google added that it is "working with existing partners to make the transition from One Pass to other platforms, including Google Consumer Surveys".

But Press+ said in a release that it will "grandfather at no charge the subscribers for any publishers that had used Google One Pass".

The US-based company had 24 publishers on its service when Google set up One Pass in February last year. It has now launched paid models online for 349 publishers, with an additional 200 planning to use the mechanism, the company said.

"We know that Google tried hard to compete with us and we are gratified that the marketplace has spoken,” said Steven Brill, one of two joint CEOs at the company, in the release.

Press+ works with a "handful" of UK publishers, including the Independent, which uses the "geo-targeting" option to add the meter and charge readers outside the UK.

Incisive Media B2B title Accountancy Age also uses Press+. In an interview with Brill said: "We are really just getting started in Europe."

He said US publishers are not seeing reduced advertising revenues and are benefiting  from an additional, subscriber income stream.

Brill and his co-CEO, former Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz, are adamant that the metered model is not a paywall and do not permit the use of the word in the office.

"With a paywall you lose your traffic, you sacrifice your advertising revenue, you sacrifice your voice in the community to a large degree.

"The meter is nothing like a paywall, the meter is more like traditional publishing where you have ad revenue and circulation revenue," he added.

Explaining that there has been a dramatic increase in US publishers using Press+, from 22 on 1 April 2011 to more than 300 today, Brill said: "The only place where there is still a religious debate and where publishers are not using the metered model is the UK and that is because the Guardian still thinks content ought to be free.

"It is a nice thought if you are financed by a trust, but for people who have to worry about paying salaries of good journalists, no one has ever thought content should be free."

Crovitz added that many publishers now measure the success of the meter by how many reporters the revenue stream is funding.

Most publishers using Press+ have opted to set their meter between five and 15 articles. Price points generally range from $5 to $10 per month, with most print publishers offering their subscribers bundled or discounted digital access.

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