The issue of charging for online content is coming to head as companies watch their advertising revenues dip and costs rise. But a new survey from Nielsen provides new hope for content providers looking to monetize in the new economy: consumers are willing to pay for content. But the value of that content differs across media and location.

The survey, which polled more than 27,000 consumers in 54 countries sought to learn what people would pay for online and how much they'd be willing to spend. And despite the proliferation of user generated content online, consumers still put a premium on professionally produced media.

Only 28% are willing to pay for social content, while 24% will pay for consumer-generated video and 20% will pay for blogs. That's good news considering that blogs and social media are not the ones struggling to find revenue models. It's established industries that are truly struggling right now. And survey respondents are willing to pay for that stuff.

57% are ready to pay for direct access to music or movies, while 51% will pony up for games and 50% will pay for professionally produced videos or TV shows.

Other professionals should be more concerned — like people who work in only 26% of respondents are willing to pay for talk radio and a meager 32% will pay for music radio.

It's not surprising that consumers show a higher propensity to pay for music, movies, games and professionally produced video than for podcasts, blogs or consumer generated video. But they are also more inclined to spend money on things they already pay for, rather than on what is now available for free.

And while consumers are generally willing to put up with increased advertising if it means more free content, that tolerance differs by region. 57% of respondents in the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan are open to the more advertising, while 55% of those in Asia Pacific responded similary. But only 40% of North America respondents and 39% of European respondents are game for more ads if it means more free content.

The full survey results will be released later in the month, but the key takeaway so far is that brands need to know their audience. Consumers are willing to pay for content, but they expect some perceived value in return. And between geographical distances and self-selecting audiences, the array of businesses reaching out with different business models is only likely to grow.

Image: Nielsen

Meghan Keane

Published 6 January, 2010 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

721 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (1)


Neale Gilhooley

I disagree with this headline, even those users who say that they will pay in research groups or on questionnaires, but in reality they will quickly vote with their feet and find free content.  Some will charge and lose others will remain free and will win more viewers and more advertisers.  In the UK paid for content will always struggle with a great BBC site.  To be honest who would want to pay for the news and content on MSN? It is pretty dumbed down Celeb-based trash compared to BBC website and other free content sites.

over 8 years ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.