Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Content We'll Pay For

At a time when content providers and users are weighing the advantages and challenges of paid online subscriptions, the Pew Internet and American Life Project has released data suggesting that users are willing to pay for online services and products classified as "intangible"—such as software, articles, and music.

Pew Internet reports that 65% of Internet users (n=755) have paid for digital content, spending an average of about $10.00 a month in the following ways:
  • 33% of internet users have paid for digital music online
  • 33% have paid for software
  • 21% have paid for apps for their cell phones or tablet computers
  • 19% have paid for digital games
  • 18% have paid for digital newspaper, magazine, or journal articles or reports
  • 16% have paid for videos, movies, or TV shows
  • 15% have paid for ringtones
  • 12% have paid for digital photos
  • 11% have paid for members-only premium content from a website that has other free material on it
  • 10% have paid for e-books
  • 7% have paid for podcasts
  • 5% have paid for tools or materials to use in video or computer games
  • 5% have paid for “cheats or codes” to help them in video games
  • 5% have paid to access particular websites such as online dating sites or services
  • 2% have paid for adult content
  • 6% have paid for a type of content not listed above
It does not appear that the categories were mutually exclusive, and really, online consumerism in this regard does not lend itself to singularity. The higher numbers for music and software suggest that attempts to combat piracy have largely been successful and that a shift is underway in the user perspective regarding access to these types of media. It will also be interesting to watch the numbers for premium content and ebooks to see how the public responds to these forms of media distribution. 

The demographics were interesting, with a slight leaning toward education, age, and income:
The internet users who have college degrees or some college generally are more likely to purchase online content than internet users with a high school or less than a high school education.

There is also a correlation between income levels and paying for online content, with the internet users who live in higher-income bracket households more likely to pay for various kinds of content than those who live in lower-income brackets.

Concerning paying for music online, the internet users in the 18- 29 and 30-49 age groups are more likely to be online purchasers than those in the older age groups.  Also, those in the higher income households purchase music in significantly higher percentages than those in the lower income brackets. 
The data also provides correlations for things like games, cheat codes, learning tools, and other online services. It will be interesting to note in the coming months whether there is a discernible shift in the ways intangible digital products are marketed. Overall, the shift toward paying for online content provides a measure for the normalization of digital consumption.

Photo by AG Z from Pexels

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