September 19, 2012

Monetization Arrives at Vimeo: 'Tip Jar' Available Today, Direct-to-Audience Sales Coming in 2013

A year ago I called monetization the elephant in the room for Vimeo, writing, "if you really want to empower independent content creators, you must give them a way to make a living." I've been wondering for quite some time if and how Vimeo was going to enable independent filmmakers to make money from their videos, since Vimeo is really the elephant in the independent filmmaking room: with 13 million registered users and 75 million monthly unique visitors, they're almost certainly the largest community of independent filmmakers in the world. Today Vimeo is launching a donation feature called Tip Jar, and coming down the line is a much bigger deal: direct-to-audience video sales.

Tip Jar is a nice feature, similar to a non torrent-based version of VODO. If you watch a video and you like it, you can voluntarily donate a few bucks directly to the video's creator using a credit card or Paypal. The official blurb:

Vimeo’s Tip Jar enables video creators to crowdsource funds to support works directly from their viewers. Tip Jar will allow anyone to give tips before, during or after watching a video; Vimeo will pay 85 percent of the gross revenue to the creator. Starting today, Vimeo Plus or Pro members can choose to activate Tip Jar.

Here's what the Tip Jar interface looks like:

Tip Jar fits in nicely with Vimeo's sunny attitude and community vibe. However, what I'm most interested in and what could potentially have a much larger impact is the pay-to-view service they'll be rolling out next year. This will be a self-service platform allowing filmmakers to sell direct-to-audience:

Vimeo’s pay-to-view service will be an open platform for video creators to sell access to their films and videos. Expanding on traditional rental and Video On Demand models, Vimeo’s pay-to-view service gives creators customizable options to sell their films and video content directly to their audiences and provide control over pricing, rental duration distribution location and other settings. Vimeo will begin rolling out its pay-to-view service in beta preview this fall with a curated series of films. Vimeo will make the pay-to-view service available to all Vimeo PRO subscribers in early 2013.

I spoke to Vimeo on the phone about these initiatives and at the time they weren't 100% sure that pay-to-view would be restricted to Pro accounts, but from the press release that does appear to be the case. Which makes sense: it's another way to differentiate the Pro accounts from Plus accounts. Vimeo Plus is $60/year (if paid annually, or $120 if paid monthly), and Vimeo Pro is $200/year (with the option to pay more for extra bandwidth). The biggest difference is the Pro account allows commercial applications, which is to say: you can sell stuff using the Pro account. So it certainly makes sense that their pay-to-view service would require the Pro account.

Other players that allow users to sell their video directly to the audience include Distrify, FilmDIY, and Dynamo Player, with a few other options coming down the pipe (Redux, and some others we'll also be covering in the future).

There's no official word on revenue split between Vimeo and the creator, but you can bet Vimeo will be bringing intrinsic value to the table as a trusted brand, not to mention they have a reliable player that works in a variety of browsers and on mobile devices. In fact, at some point they fixed my main complaint with their player, which was that you couldn't forward to any place in a Vimeo video unless it had pre-buffered. That is no longer the case and it works great in both HTML5 and Flash players. If someone is paying to watch, say, a full feature film of yours, you can bet being able to skip forward is a crucial feature. I still miss that desktop uploader, though!

Once Vimeo enables the pay-to-view service, will you consider upgrading to Pro? Do you see this as a good sign for the future of self-distribution?

Link: Introducing Vimeo Creator Services: Helping Creators Make Money

Your Comment

40 Comments

Well these are exciting options. Now lets see who is able to profit from these opportunities.

September 19, 2012

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This is very interesting. Let's keep an eye on it and see how it turns out.

September 19, 2012

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Álex Montoya

I've activated Tip Jar in a 2010 short film I directed:

https://vimeo.com/36763962

Let's get those pennies flowing in!

September 19, 2012

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Álex Montoya

From what I can see it seems pretty easy to make a contribution, via Paypal or credit card. The downside it's that it doesn't seem to allow to donate fractions of a dollar, which would be nice.

As a content provider you can click at the 'Tip Jar' button and it tells you how much have been donated. In my cas, it says "No tips yet, but we’re rooting for you." :)

I'm thinking in donating a dollar to see if it updates instantly.

September 19, 2012

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Álex Montoya

Trying to tip you, Alex -- I've seen your short before! -- but I keep getting this error message: "Some information appears to be incorrect. Please check and try again." I'll see if I can get it to work through Paypal.

September 19, 2012

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Thanks a lot, Ryan.

The thing is that I wanted to enable Tip Jar at my personal Vimeo site ( https://vimeo.com/alexmontoyamelia ) but it looks like you can't activate Tip Jar with the same Paypal email in two different Vimeo accounts.

So I deactivated it on the Morituri account (which proved to be difficult, you can only do it by using another valid Paypal email) and activated it in mine.

You can tip me at https://vimeo.com/15704652 , for example.

If you do, please let me know, so I can check how fast it updates.

Thanks heaps.

September 19, 2012

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Álex Montoya

Done! Did it work?

September 19, 2012

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Not yet.

September 19, 2012

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Álex Montoya

Oh, and... Terrific (and hilarious) short!

September 19, 2012

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

They sent me a receipt... I hope so!

September 19, 2012

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Thanks a lot for the nice words, Ryan. I must say I'm a big fan of yours.

Regarding the tip, I'm checking both the Vimeo site and my Paypal Account. Nothing's showing yet!

I'll check it regularly and keep you updated!

September 19, 2012

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Álex Montoya

Got it!

"Your Tips

SWEET. Your video has been tipped $5.00 by 1 person so far."

It also states your name and says you tipped me 15 hours ago, though yesterday at 1 am nothing showed up.. A friend sent me a link to the FAq this morning https://vimeo.com/help/faq/tip_jar

There you can read the following:

"I just received a tip via Tip Jar. Why isn’t it listed?
It takes tips 3 hours to process. After 3 hours, you’ll see the tip listed on your video page and the video’s Advanced Settings page. You’ll also receive a confirmation email."

Other than that:
"a payment for all the tips you receive in the month of June will be transferred from Vimeo to your PayPal account on July 30th.)"

Thanks for the tip! I'll put it to good use.

September 20, 2012

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Álex Montoya

I'm definitely intrigued by this. Too bad I'm too broke to upgrade to either Plus or Pro membership at this point. If it turns out to be a good option for making a little extra cash (hopefully to do more than just break even from the membership fee), then I'll probably make the jump, but until then I have to stick with the free membership.

September 19, 2012

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Anton

!!!!!!!

This is bigger news than some may realize right now!
Thanks for sharing!

...wow...

September 19, 2012

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michael

This is terrific

September 19, 2012

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Bubba

excited about this

September 19, 2012

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carlos

self-distribution is the last piece of the puzzle- we have cheap cameras and equipment now, we have the internet, now we just need a way to get our stuff out there on the same scale as the way traditional top-down media structures do it.

September 19, 2012

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john jeffreys

The Tip Jar is neat, the Pay to View feature could be huge though!

September 19, 2012

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This is HUGE. Possibly the Kindle Direct Publishing of video?

Excited to see where this is going.

September 19, 2012

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Sazlin

This will be a great platform to distribute training videos and tutorials. I'd gladly pay a few bucks for a high quality, in depth tutorial that taught me something new. Heck, you could take an entire filmmaking 101 course on Vimeo and pay tuition directly to the teacher!

September 19, 2012

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Imagine if there would be Vimeo staff picks for Indie movies just like they do right now with regular content, being featured on their main page. It would instantly create attention for those Indie movies that (most probably) deserve it.

September 19, 2012

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Michael

I missed the desktop uploader, too - but just recently they added dropbox support, that`s even simpler than the uploader, you just place the video into the respective dropbox folder and voilá, done, no more open browser required, no more distrupted uploads and the possibility to pause and resume uploads.

September 19, 2012

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Mariano

Yeah we covered that, it's a big plus. I did notice however that you can't use Dropbox to replace a file on an existing video, so it's not the solution for everything...

September 19, 2012

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Sounds great! Only things is that paying a monthly fee + Vimeo taking a share of each sale, for the majority of us filmmakers it won't make any economical sense... either than that bravo!

September 19, 2012

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Dave

But if you're paying the fee anyway...and one viral hit could easily recoup the fee, then it's really a win-win for everyone.

September 19, 2012

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Swested

This is a very good thing. Good move, Vimeo!

September 19, 2012

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Marvelous. Also the last push I needed to upgrade to a PRO account.

September 19, 2012

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This is great news for all great artists with amazing videos on Vimeo! It will be interesting to see how this is presented to the buyers and how flexible the solution. We see there are quite some limitations already for Tipping: no embed, Paypal only, see their FAQs http://vimeo.com/help/faq/tip_jar

It seams many other video or content platforms tried to launch their own pay system, yet often they realize this is not their core business and then look for other best in class components to integrate.
Actually, for those who cannot wait 2013, Vimeans can try Cleeng. Takes 2 minutes to protect a video: http://play.cleeng.com/setup

September 20, 2012

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Suggestion for Vimeo: add suscription options too.

Some people create lots of small videos, you can't expect me to pay $0.10 for each one they make, but you can expect me to pay $3/month to watch them all.

September 20, 2012

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Taking a peek at some of the comments after yesterday's Vimeo announcement identifies many of the challenges that publishers are facing when it comes to content monetization, specifically difficulties such as device compatibility, inclusive mobile; geographical coverage & different currencies; multiple payment methods; how about in-player monetization without leaving the site? Maybe Cleeng play is a great solution:

Cleeng PLAY allows you the publisher, to:

- Keep up to 92% of the revenue generated

- Offer a user flow that is embedded in the player - viewers can pay for and watch the video without leaving your web site

- Set any price of your videos and we mean real revenue, not just tipping.

- Adjust to varying business models: pay per view, subscriptions and even metered paywalls.

- Immediately accept major credit cards, PayPal and even mobile payments. We provide payment methods in over 87 countries.

- And best of all? This service is ready for your to start selling your videos immediately! Why wait? Sign-up today for a free Publisher account. All you need to do to Get started and generate revenue from your videos! Go to: http://play.cleeng.com/setup/

September 21, 2012

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Great, now with the service everyone can rip my video and sell it online! Brilliant!

September 27, 2012

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Amir

Here 3 aspects to consider Amir:

1- For digital content, any protection really happens BEFORE the video is actually bought. Once it plays on a computer screen, there are so many ways to "grab" the content. We should all recognize it.

2- Our experience shows very few users have fraudulent behaviour (for example, we sell Epicurious cooking school videos, and these are not share of free platforms). 99.8% of people use correctly the bought content. Note, fraudulent users tend to never content, and find anyhow ways to acquire it for free. We strongly believe a good purchase experience reduces actually the risk of fraud, as it takes more efforts to steal than to buy legitimately .

3- In Vimeo, options are still limited to protect videos (see in video settings):
a- Remove the download option of your video
b- Have domain restrictions activated, so the link cannot be easily shared with everyone.
There are few other elements we can enforce too, i.e. we do see who buys content, with credit card info, email and more. We run parallel checks and if any abuse, we can easily notify the users. So far, we never had to use such an approach.

October 2, 2012

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give "everynone" a tip.

seems legit.

September 20, 2012

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Derek

Finally a option to monetize and sell my videos. However they do not offer real DRM, so it is quite easy to download your movie and spread it online.

Are there any alternatives beside Vimeo and the much too expensive Brightcove?

December 25, 2012

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