Many Would ‘Consider Paying’ for Content

The latest in a series of these types of surveys about whether consumers would pay for online content, Nielsen polled “more than 27,000 consumers across 52 countries” and found at least a potential willingness to pay for some content types.

According to the survey:

Consumers worldwide generally agree that online content will have to meet certain criteria before they shell out money to access it:

  • Better than three out of every four survey participants (78%) believe if they already subscribe to a newspaper, magazine, radio or television service they should be able to use its online content for free.
  • At the same time, 71% of global consumers say online content of any kind will have to be considerably better than what is currently free before they will pay for it.
  • As a group, they are ambivalent about whether the quality of online content would suffer if companies could not charge for it—34% think so while 30% do not; and the remaining 36% have no firm opinion.
  • But they are far more united (62%) in their conviction that once they purchase content, it should be theirs to copy or share with whomever they want.

However here’s the problem for online newspapers: “Nearly eight out of every ten (79%) would no longer use a web site that charges them, presuming they can find the same information at no cost.”

Despite that grim bullet, these findings overall provide some “hope” to publishers and traditional content producers that under the right circumstances they’ll be able to charge something for the digital versions of their content. We’ll see if tablets and the iPad have any impact on this. Most publishers will need to employ the carrot and the stick rather than just the stick to gain digital subscribers.

2 Responses to “Many Would ‘Consider Paying’ for Content”

  1. Darby Sieben Says:

    I think there is room for paid content using the web as a delivery method. My personal example – I have a digital subscription to MacWorld through http://www.zinio.com/ that I have had for a number of years. Although I could easily go to macworld.com or read most (if not all) of the information that is available in this digital magazine – I like the publication for the purposes of discovery – I get to visually see new items (usually in the form of ads) and can more quickly scan information.

    What would be interesting is to phrase the conversation around paid content in the form of discovery, readability or portability as opposed to simply would a person pay for content. Not sure if this would change results, but digital subscriptions should contain more than just content – there is a whole package of benefits that create a compelling user experience.

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    There must be some benefits to the user for paying. The information itself generally speaking is not enough — and this may be not well understood by the publications themselves. The idea of throwing up the paywall without more, design innovation, value adds, etc. will be unsuccessful in 99 out of 100 cases.

    The one area where newspapers may see success is in holding on to print subscribers: Get online and print for one low price . . .

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