Contenture – Support the sites you love

Usually, I don't get too excited about new ad networks – but since Contenture has been developed by the team behind Clicky, I'm quite sure that this service deserves a closer look. The idea is simple: by paying a monthly flat fee to Contenture, users help webmaster make their sites sustainable. Via a JavaScript-Snippet, the Contenture networks measures users' visits to participating sites and spreads the money accordingly.

Basically, Contenture is reversing the classic ad model: instead of generating indirect revenue streams via AdSense and affiliate banners, webmasters profit from their regular users. I think that Contenture enters the stage at a quite early time, but basically the financial sustainability will become one of the key questions of the future web. There are some caveats involved though: such a network can only bring benefit to its webmaster if enough users are willing to pay – since most surfers are even reluctant to pay for online-services, I doubt that the big rush will take place instantly.

contenture anti-ad network

But the team has obviously kept that challenge in mind and came up with a *very* tempting idea:

Contenture is a new way to monetize your web site. Ad revenues are poor, unless you're a big name – and even then, they're still not that great. With Contenture, you make money for every visit to your site from a Contenture user. Furthermore, Contenture makes it dead simple to add premium level features to your web site with very little work. Think of it as a way to take your site Freemium. For example, you could give paying users priority access to new articles, exclusive access to your archives, an ad-free experience, and more. These features are built right into Contenture, but you can do even more with a little work on your end.

Now what's so special about that? Think about it this way: during the last weeks, a number of big affiliate networks – especially Clickbank – have got into a struggle with several kinds of malware-clean-up software: once those programs start deleting CB-cookies, the fun part is over. Contenture offers a much more stable system and establishes a monetization system which doesn't require any ongoing user actions. Once a couple of popular bloggers start posting mini-tutorials or premium contents (Twitter reports are still pretty hot), Contenture will experience a massive grow:

Contenture offers web sites the ability to (optionally) add premium level features to their web site. One of these features is to remove ads, but that's just one of many. For example, a site could give paying users priority access to new articles, exclusive access to their archives, special commenting abilities, and more. These types of features are built right in to Contenture. In other words, we're bringing the Freemium business model to the masses.
Here's another way to look at it. Contenture is the first that lets content providers create premium “micro services” throughout their sites. This is a crucial variable that other micropayment services have failed to implement.

And this is just the beginning – there are more features to come, like pay-per-article, tools for subscription-based models and much more. In this respect, Contenture not only is the first “anti-ad-network” but at the same time a valuable toolkit for developing micro-payment models.

The pricing seems rather reasonable to me – the minimum fee is $6,99. Users can pay more on an optional basis. Contenture keeps 20% of the revenues, which is very low compared to the standard 50% of most ad networks. Contenture works with all types of sites, but there are plugins for WordPress and Drupal – the integration is one in two minutes. There is no approval system, but Contenture reserves the right to delete accounts.

Conclusion: Contenture arrived a little early, but the idea is great and from my two years of Clicky experience, I definitely know that these guys understand how micro-traffic analysis works. There are no downturns involved – I activated the Contenture plugin on datadirt today and I'm not expecting a massive income stream yet, but I expect this to grow quite big. So it's probably a good idea to jump on the band-wagon as soon as you can.

More reviews:

Stefan Jacobasch on Contenture [in German]
Micropayment-Based Freemium Models For All. (If People Use It.) on TechCrunch
The anti-ad network
Monetize content without ads?

Recommended Extensions: travelling into the future with Firefox

The orange-blue fox is our favorite browser, no doubt – and one of the reasons is the incredible number of plug-ins available. In FF-lingo, they're called “extensions” and they cater virtually every need: whether it's a webmaster checking his page for errors, a SEO looking for those juicy follow-Links or Mr. average surfer looking for more comfort: almost every need is catered. Recently, MacStories has compiled an interesting postings that saves power-foxers a lot of time.

10 Best Firefox Extensions, 2009 Edition #1: turn Firefox into NOW. is all about extensions which make daily web life easier, faster, more efficient. Some of them are all about gathering of additional information, some of them are about re-grouping contents and some dig deep into the code-structure of webpages. Even though I knew some of those plug-ins, a couple of them were completely new to me.

Some of those extensions are Greasemonkey scripts (in case you haven't installed Greasemonkey yet, you should do that right now. It's a script library which enables users to change various behaviors of websites: using Greasemonkey, one could color Facebook differently but also do a lot of useful things like improve the usability of various online services.)

There's no doubt that there are excellent feed extensions out there as well, but since I don't use Firefox to manage my RSS-Setup, I'm not using any of those. When it comes to reading news I love SnackR, while I use Snarfer, an excellent choice for dealing with large (and I mean: huge) numbers of feeds, for monitoring purposes.

But all hail to vertical browsing: I'm a tab addict, and even though I sport a huge monitor, there's never enough space for all those tabs. TreeStyleTab is great not only because it puts the tabs in vertical order, but it also comes with handy hierarchy- and grouping functions. And for those of you who want to switch tabs in style, FoxTab 1.1.2 raises the eye-candy factor and saves time.

Another great plug-in which I use is the SEOMoz toolbar which gathers all kinds of marketing-relevant information. And in case you want to surf along undetected from time to time, the Switch Proxy tool comes in handy. Those are my favorites – which extensions do you use to pimp your Firefox?