Good Grief. People Are Actually Paying $199 A Year For What Amounts To A Bulletin Board-Style Discussion Forum Which Could Be Had For Free Anywhere Else?

From a self-described "small integrator" criticizing the Research Service / Info+ split:

People are actually paying $199 a year for what amounts to a bulletin board-style discussion forum which could be had for free anywhere else? Good grief.

While I can understand why many small integrators only care about tests and technical posts, they don't understand what managers and executives at companies are interested in at IPVM. Here are some examples of top subscriber read posts in the last few weeks that are part of the $199 annual Info+ plan:

Most people who subscribe to IPVM are managers or executives at companies who read those reports regularly (though do not regularly comment, unlike many small integrators).

The discussion in the comments is fine, for the most part, but the thing that managers and executives are primarily paying for and reading is our substantive reporting. It's reasonable for small integrators to not care about reading those but I'd hope they understand that many others find it valuable.

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The bigger question, is where does he thing he can get a free discussion that is similar to what is on IPVM? I am part of a few facebook groups, and 95% of the discussion is "Why is my hikua XYZ not working" or "What is wrong with my analog camera" or "how do I get the reset code for my camera/recorder".

There are tons of end users asking "how much to install 8 cameras for me" or "should I buy this system from costco?"

It is not for professionals by professionals in our field.

Sure there are some good discussions, but not the same level of connections with professional integrators, distys, and manufacturers.

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I think the FB Surveillance Installers group is good for installers and technicians and IPCamTalk is good for those doing DIY.

And when installers or hobbyists criticize IPVM in those places, I understand where they are coming from.

I am hoping they understand there are other groups of people that have different interests and those business, sales, legal, and competitive topics are quite important to others that are different from them.

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I've defended the pricing strategy shift in the past, but now when even articles like this that don't involve any hardware testing are paywalled: Verkada Aiming To Acquire Startups

I have to say that it's pretty disappointing.

I feel like there at least needs to be some "meat on the bones" left for Info+

Or maybe for those of use who pay for 5 Info+ licenses, there should be a ration of "Research" articles that we can read.

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don't involve any hardware testing are paywalled: Verkada Aiming To Acquire Startups

This article is meant for executives at companies that want to partner or compete with Verkada. Those people will derive business value by better understanding the company's strategy.

I feel like there at least needs to be some "meat on the bones" left for Info+

If hundreds of posts like these below are not enough meat for your $850 a year then you should cancel and take the 100% refund:

We're going to do these types of news reports and company profiles and those are going to be included in Info+ which provide a lot of "meat on the bone" for those wanting to understand the state of the industry that is not reported anywhere else.

We're also going to expand strategic analysis and that will be within the Research Service.

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Hi John,

I respect your company and the quality of your team's work. In fact, I'd consider myself quite friendly with several of your team members.

Our membership renews on 06/2022. It would be in very poor faith to ask for a "100% refund" for something that we've already consumed 90% of, and that's not how we operate.

What will likely happen is that we will cancel the 5 Info+ licenses and transition to 1 research license. We will consider adding more in the future if we feel it's necessary.

I'm offering this feedback as a customer because as a founder myself, I would also want the same feedback. It's not because I am upset.

Keep up the good work. Still rooting for you guys.

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What will likely happen is that we will cancel the 5 Info+ licenses and transition to 1 research license. We will consider adding more in the future if we feel it's necessary.

That will increase our revenue. We are also confident that many companies will realize how important both Info+ and Research is to many of their employees and will therefore buy more seats, etc., increasing revenue further.

There's a virtuous cycle to this, the more revenue we can generate, the more we can invest in more reporting, which will make us more attractive to more subscribers. The previous $199 flat rate handcuffed us in generating more revenue for those who received more value from us.

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As the "self-described small integrator" who John has quoted above, I'll give you my perspective.

EDIT: Firstly, the "had for free anywhere else" refers to the fact that, if you remove IPVM's staff, testing, facility, and whatnot, what you are left with here is an industry-oriented discussion forum. My contention is that the $199 pays for the staff, facility, tests, etc. not the forum itself, and if you had to pay that $199 just for the forum, you likely would not.

There are, guaranteed, more smaller integrators in this field than there are executives, CEOs, and upper management of major corporations. Nowhere have I ever seen a mission statement or objective by IPVM indicating they were catering primarily to the elite, but that's precisely where the Research tier is taking them.

John is quick to publish what articles the executives of this forum read, but I have not seen him explain how many executives versus integrators are members here. And of those integrators, what their employee sizes and revenues are. It would have been much more equitable and sensible if IPVM structured their pricing based on those two metrics of an organization, instead of penalizing and alienating small companies who cannot justify thousands of dollars for the content here. It's not like either one is difficult to establish; just look em up on Linkedin and there's your employee size.

I found the most value in the test reports, but I most definitely do not see thousands of dollars value in them. The second thing I found useful was communicating with industry asking them technical questions, but most of them were not able to be answered to my satisfaction (maybe because the demographic here is all executives and CEOs who've never touched a hand tool?). I'd have been glad to go to $299 annually, inflation and all that. But to expect someone my size to pay thousands of dollars for the same content is ludicrous. It's milking the suits, nothing more.

Of course if this forum IS all just suits with the occasional integrator then John's perspective would make much more sense and I would recognize it was I who is out-of-place, and quietly shuffle off to some other forum where my needs would be better met.

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While everyone in this industry would likely find this article interesting, This article is meant for executives at companies that want to partner or compete with Verkada. Those people will derive business value by better understanding the company's strategy. Since these executives have lots of money, I realized we're fools for not milking them for it. Emptying corporate pockets will ultimately result in net positive revenue despite member losses, which is now my end goal rather than being an objective news outlet advocating for ALL industry as we have in the past.

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FIFY.

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I think the FB Surveillance Installers group is good for installers and technicians

Thank you for that. It will be my alternative to IPVM once my membership expires later this year.

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I agree. The verkada article seems like an info article, not a research article. Im now confuscious on the difference between research and info. I had originally thought the research subscription was product testing which i was happy to let go of.

So IPVM can take my info + subscription and shove it ..... in their bank acct because i will continue to pay it, but i was hoping to read the news about Verkada to see if they wanted to buy me out for billions.... maybe then i could afford the research subscription.

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I had originally thought the research subscription was product testing

Sean, thanks for the feedback. Definitely, the debate and criticisms have centered around the testing but the Research Service will include both testing and financial / competitive analysis.

See video:

As it relates to Verkada, the example here, if Verkada announces acquiring a startup, that's news and will be in Info+. If we find some information about future acquisition plans not announced and analyze that, it will be Research Service (what happened in this case). Similiarly, if Verkada goes public and their stock doubles or drops in half, that's news and will go in Info+. If we analyze low-level financial details to spot specific risks or weaknesses, that will be Research.

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The Reddit /accesscontrol board can be pretty informative

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Exactly where my mind went. The video surveillance subreddits are filled with Hik / Amcrest questions, but accesscontrol has been a great group for a long while.

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When my membership is due, the info+ does not have the ROI for me to justify to my employer, and the research package is priced too high to go that direction either.

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I imagine your were a bit handcuffed. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like you could afford to pay anyone to advise you on this decision either. These types of changes kill companies.

What you should have done:

1. Increase your general memberships by a modest amount.

2. Charge a couple bucks a piece for the shootouts and product tests. Let folks pay only for the ones they want and need. If those articles generate interest, they will pay for themselves.

3. As far as the financial articles, I suppose you could charge a nominal fee for those too. But honestly, that information is pretty easily obtainable of anyone wants it and I'm not sure it's worth paying for. To each their own.

4. Offer an (apparently crazy high) all-incusive membership level for those with high interest that don't want to get pinged for every article they want.

Problems solved and without driving away existing subscribers.

I'm betting the majority of your subscribers fall into the same category as I do. The vast majority of "Research" articles don't apply to me. They are covering brands that are unavailable to me and don't appear in my competitive market. The high price isn't worth it for the one or two articles that actually do apply to me. But I'd happily pay for the ones that do.

However, the pricing level I would deem fair to me no longer offers anything I find useful. So you've gone from having a reliable subscriber to getting nothing from me at all.

I've purposely not included the IPVM tools. Those have value as well, but not to me personally. I like the camera calculator, but it focuses on the same several brands that are unavailable to me so I can't really use it.

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I'm not sure how you guys feel this information isn't covered anywhere else. There's very little (albeit some) information on IPVM that can't be had in other industry publications.

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I like the camera calculator, but it focuses on the same several brands that are unavailable to me so I can't really use it

The Calculator supports over 100 brands so I don't understand your claim here.

So you've gone from having a reliable subscriber to getting nothing from me at all.

And we are getting lots of organizations paying 2x to 20x more. Same thing for your business, some of your customers greatly value your work, others do not.

that information is pretty easily obtainable of anyone wants it and I'm not sure it's worth paying for.

If you are satisfied with press releases and marketing sure. For those who want in depth research and analysis, IPVM is the clear choice.

the pricing level I would deem fair to me no longer offers anything I find useful.

We added in a $480 plan including Info+ and 10 Research reports per year for small businesses. Response has been very positive to that but we cannot make IPVM a fit for everyone.

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Can you post some examples of where else you are finding this info? Links would be great.

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The feeling of clicking on 'Research+' articles as a traditional user is captured very well in this 30 second clip from Jurassic Park.

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OP has some great points. There is a very strong lack of differentiation between info+ and research+ at this point on the website, so it operates like a paywalled site. Only difference between this and a normal paywalled site is we're users... who are already paying.

As a sample of how this is painful as users: Axis Competitive Strategy and Motorola Acquisition Strategy are two articles on the front page right now - One Info+, one Research+. The one Research article even seems confused about what it is...

Note: this is not a product evaluation. While we use examples of key [...] product categories to illustrate the competitive challenges, those interested in immediate buying decisions should review IPVM's Research... [cont.]

You are anticipating the "info" user base to pay for Motorola's marketing pitch on acquisitions in their strategy, and the possibly useful Axis article is set aside because it delves a bit further.

In my opinion, segregating the articles is a must to stop the frustrating user experience. Don't do it for me by any means - do it for the next guy, complete with more dinosaur references. Seems to be the "Jumping the shark" reference for security technology now, right?

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As a sample of how this is painful as users: Axis Competitive Strategy and Motorola Acquisition Strategy

The second one's title is Motorola Speaks on Security / Surveillance Acquisition Strategy. It's an interview, that's why it's Info+.

segregating the articles is a must to stop

How would you like them to be segregated? We are labeling every article now with Info+ or Research but we are happy to consider more.

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How would you like them to be segregated? We are labeling every article now with Info+ or Research but we are happy to consider more.

With the likelihood that 90+% of users are Info+ users, having the research ones on the same shared dashboard is a sales pitch. To provide the appropriate ROI for the INFO+ customers, it seems sensible to...

1) Host a separate page for all the Research+ articles

2) Leverage the content that isn't 'Research+' that's in those articles that cross both fronts for a paired Info+ article: IE an overview of Axis' products and struggling points, with a paired link to the Research article that crosses the line into that research category.

Without stepping it aside, 'Paywall' site is accurate.

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As a Info subscriber - labeling every article now with Info+ or Research is adequate for me. I like to see them all in one stream

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I'm not an executive but I find the things that interest me are in research. I do understand the need to get paid though. From my point of view, a lot of the fluff I'd rather price out are the incredibly useful tools that exist but are never used by me; essentially the whole tool section.

That being said I'm probably just an odd duck who enjoys reading out of his pay grade. I subscribe because of my interest in the industry and the way its headed. I love the research aspect of it because it enables me to deepen my own research. Though I can't justify the price tag as the opinions I form don't guide a company. I just enjoy the transparency this forum brings to the market, the community and the solace it brings me.

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Just to balance the votes, we're a small integrator (just me and three technicians) and i'm happy to pay for the research service.

I'm not going to argue about it, everyone has his/hers own reasons and none of those are any better or worse than mine so why bother trying to convince anyone?

Suffices to say i'm still happy with IPVM and have always been so since (pretty much) the start.

Is it perfect? Nope but me neither so we go well together ;-)

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To provide the appropriate ROI for the INFO+ customers

One thing we have not communicated well is that we are providing partial access to Research Service articles to Info+ subscribers while the public (non-subscribers) gets no access (only the title).

For example, in the Camera Analytics Shootout 2022, the Info+ section includes a fair amount of details about the worst performers:

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By contrast, the public view of that report is just the title and an immediate paywall:

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Our goal is to still provide some value to Info+ subscribers within Research reports that the public has no access to.

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Btw, we have updated the message that Info+ subscribers receive when accessing Research reports. This message now emphasizes that Info+ subscribers get partial Research report access unlike the public who gets none, example below from the Ring test:

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I have to say, I have yet to find a forum, subreddit, Facebook group, or anything else that offers, not just the same level of knowledgeable, professional discussion as IPVM, but the incredibly low noise floor compared to pretty much all of the above*. I don't have to wade through all those "why doesn't my hikua work" posts and "just f'n google it" comments to get to the quality stuff. While my internal filtering abilities are generally well-honed to avoid the crap, it's nice not to have to over-work them.

*note: this does not apply to any of the COVID-related topics I've found here - they seem to really attract the far-right conspiracy nuts and knuckle-draggers more so than any other form of social media I use. On the bright side, at least those rants are far more articulate than the usual "hurr hurr hurr" on FB and the like. Articulate BS is still BS, but it's nice that it can be mostly avoided by simply avoiding those discussions with anything COVID-related in the title. That helps ease the stress on my filters.

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