The free model brings innovation

Why freemium models are a new succesful model on the web.

I’ve just finished reading Alex Iskold’s post titled “Freeconomics, the danger of free”. Alex briefly explores some tech companies’ free models to better explain the aggressiveness of those commercial techniques.

I strongly believe in the free model, as I am applying it here too. Here is the challenge when offering free videos to companies for their corporate communications:

  1. The quality of the video: if companies are talking to potential partners or clients, they must have a top-notch image. The quality of video capture, along with the video editing effort and time require a cost that will need to be amortized when delivering the product for free.
  2. The distribution of the video: That’s more of a given. Videos are posted on free online platforms like Blogger or Youtube. A modest audience will visit the site occasionally, and the interviewee himself will usually help out in the distribution process. However, to out reach the usual crowd, a small budget is dedicated to advertising. Again, a cost that will have to be amortized.
  3. The actual time to set up interviews: This action implies targeting and finding contact info, sending numerous requests, get one answer, and elaborate the email discussions to finally figure out a date for the interview. This can sometimes be very time-consuming. Almost a full-time job.

Here I am not talking about designing your online presence; make homogeneous graphics in-site and in-video; promotion on other platforms; time dealing with actual and potential sponsors; blogging…

All of this has to seem free to the interviewee (because it is). I rely on advertising models to finance those operations. Where I will not say how I organize my content to make it profitable, sure enough it requires forgetting old business models and start to be really creative about how money and information flow together online.

Alex finishes his post by asking if we see the free model as a nuisance. Personally, I think it is just a marketing technique for unknown companies to compete against powerful brands who can extra-charge their customers who will love their favorite brand anyway. Free means aggressive market penetration. The free model is directly implied in the trust issue that the Web 2.0 is bringing to the surface. Free helps you build trust, which helps you build a brand, that in returns helps you charge for other quality services. Free brings innovation.