Web monetization case study

By Luka Crnjakovic | 16 November 2020

At CORE, we believe that our content should be freely available, and that we should experiment with forward-thinking ways to generate income to support our charitable work – while always protecting the privacy of our users and the quality of our work.

In one of those experiments, we’re part of a study into a new approach to funding online content funded by the Grant for the Web, a consortium of open-software organisations. Specifically, we’re helping to study the potential of web monetization, an open and privacy-focused standard that lets users support content creators.

In its simplest form, web monetization lets website users choose to pay a website tiny amounts from a private wallet as they browse that site – a common amount is $0.36 per hour. When a user has set up their wallet and visits the site, the site accepts a stream of very, very small payments from that user, without the user having to do anything.

While small, regular payments to websites are nothing new, what’s new here is that the payments are automated in a way that makes paying for content frictionless and private. This way, users can choose to support content creators like CORE. And website creators can choose to provide extra value to users with these wallets.

Web monetization has the potential to replace toxic advertising, to lower the cost of online content, and to better protect users’ privacy. You can read more about how web monetization works on the Grant for the Web site.

The study we’re part of is run by Electric Book Works and funded by the Grant for the Web. For the case study, we will enable web monetization on three of our ebooks, The Economy, Economy, Society, and Public Policy, and Doing Economics, for four months. Users who happen to have a web-monetization wallet set up will pay a small amount while reading these books.

For this study, there will be no difference at all between what users with or without a wallet will see on our sites.

At the end of the study, Electric Book Works will openly publish their findings from our site and several other open-content publishers. We hope that research like this will inspire others to share knowledge and publish openly, too.