Many web users prefer ads to paid-for content

08 January 2010

NEW YORK: Many consumers would favour the introduction of more web ads as an alternative to building "paywalls" around online content, a global survey from Nielsen, the research firm, has found.

Some 47% of the 27,000 consumers, in 54 nations, who completed Nielsen's poll said they were "open" to additional advertising on the internet, with this figure rising to 57% in the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan, and to 55% in the Asia Pacific region.

However, the idea proved significantly less popular in North America and Europe, with support levels running at just 40% and 39% respectively.

Many large media companies have seen their balance sheets suffer over recent years as a direct consequence of the growth of the web, with their customers now preferring to consume free online content instead of paid-for alternatives.

Firms can partially offset these financial losses by selling online ad space alongside their free content, with websites which generate the most traffic able to command the highest rates.

Nic Covey, director of cross-platform insights at Nielsen, said: "The key takeaway is this: across geographies, demographics and content types, consumers think very differently about how they'll pay for content.

"Accordingly, monetization models will have to be flexible – there will have to be more, not fewer, options to supporting the cost of content."

Nielsen's research also indicated that web users are willing to pay directly for some, but not all, kinds of web content, with 57% of consumers having done so, or planning to do so, for music and movies.

However, only 20% said they would be ready to pay for blog content, with 24% agreeing with this statement for user-generated videos.

Data sourced from Nielsen; additional content by Warc staff