Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Freemium, Pay Walls and Albi Cathedral's near-perfect marketingexecution

I'm in Toulouse for the Cartoon Forum. I've been to the Forum before as my regular readers will know.

Today we were treated to a tour of Albi and it's frankly hideous but nevertheless imposing brick-built Cathedral.

Of interest to those of trying to figure out how to monetise content was a brave and near-perfect attempt at monetisation through the Freemium business model ...

First off it should be said that His Eminence the Archbishop of Albi has found a very strong promotional hook for his Cathedral: Albi is the largest brick-built building in the world, constructed using some 8.5 million bricks at the end of the 13th Century. A strong enough pitch to get me on a one hour coach trip to see what it was all about.

Once in Albi, you enter the cathedral and marvel at the Nave (if you like that sort of thing).

You wander round and, after just the right amount of time, come up against this, the Albi cathedral pay wall. They want to charge you to see The Choir and The Crypt.

Immediately you think 'I wonder what's behind there, it must be interesting if they are charging for it' and sure enough I paid to see the exclusive, pay-users-only content that was 'The Choir'. So far, so good.

However, I say near-perfect execution because I think they could have taken more money off me and off other cathedral architecture fans. Here's what would have made the execution flawless:

It cost €2 to see The Choir (not a significant barrier to purchase) and €3 to see The Choir and The Crypt.

I only spent the €2. Because they undersold The Crypt.

The offer should have been €2 to see The Choir €5 to see The Crypt, or €4 to see the Crypt if you had a Choir Ticket.

This pricing would have made me believe that The Crypt was valuable content worth paying the extra to see. As it was, at €1 extra, I figured it was probably a little bit 'meh'. Plus, if they had set the price for the Crypt at €4 with a Choir ticket I would have felt that I was getting a bargain because of the €1 price reduction.

To mitigate any risk of shoppers remorse the Archbishop would need to make sure that the the crypt was loaded with valuable content .. a sarcophagus or two or other artefacts from the store and perhaps some well presented additional information about the history of the building and certainly a congratulatory message printed on a souvenir ticket reassuring the holder that they had made a great decision to visit The Crypt, a sort of ecclesiastical auto-reposponder.

Of course the really bold play would have been to invite a more substantial contribution to the cathedrals coffers, perhaps offering a 'friend of the cathedral' status with an undertaking by the His Eminence to have a word with his and our ultimate boss on your behalf so that, come judgement day, your passage through the ultimate pay wall could be more positively ensured.

Not sure, that might require some user testing and feedback analysis. To keep the Cathedral even maintained the Archbishop has to maximise revenues but he does have a brand to think about which over-zealous monetisation could damage.

It just goes to show that constructing your freemium proposition is an art as much as a science.

Back on the bus to Toulouse I reflected that in cathedral architecture terms, I am nearly a whale but his Eminence failed to exploit my love of gothic architecture or to play on my fears around eternal damnation.

However, we shouldn't overlook his success in relieving me of €2 and he could have a future in devising monetisation strategies for mobile games.

Back to the Cartoons tomorrow.