Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Consumer views of online pay models

With much talk recently around the future of newspapers and online content, and whether these should now starting charging users for access, Media Week has reported on some new research by Forrester in the US which found that while a minority of consumers is willing to pay for online content, not all pay models are considered equal.

Using a mail survey of just over 4,700 consumers, the responses showed that 80% said they wouldn't pay for access to online content if the publisher erects a pay wall. Then 8% of respondents said they preferred an online subscription, with the same percentage also preferring a multichannel subscription. Only 3% said they would prefer to use micropayments, which is one of the options being considered by publishers.

These results are therefore not good reading for publishers and suggest that they should keep offering free, ad-supported products to the vast majority of users who won't otherwise pay for the content, while giving those who will pay a choice of payment methods for access to premium products.

How people would want to access content online also varied, with 37% favouring a website, while smaller percentages preferred portable devices like mobile phones (14%), laptops and netbooks (11%). Another 10% favoured getting their former print publication via an emailed PDF and only 3% favored e-readers like the Kindle, although this reflects the early reach and acceptance of this new technology. Notably, 44% said they preferred none of those options!

When it comes to predicting who will pay for online content, the study found that people who are college-educated, 'technology optimists' and higher earners are more likely to pay for online newspapers than those who are unwilling to pay. Age was barely a factor in willingness to pay, however, but this did become a bigger factor amongst those who are willing to pay for online magazines.

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