Studies Claim Little Consumer Interest in Paying For Ad-Free Digital Content

May 18, 2016

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | Digital | Mobile Phone | Teens & Younger | Youth & Gen X

TUNE-Smartphone-Owners-Paying-to-Block-Ads-in-Apps-May2016The vast majority (85%) of US adults would prefer an ad-supported internet where most content is free to a paid internet where everything costs money because there’s no advertising, says the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) [pdf] in a survey conducted by Zogby Analytics. That in itself isn’t too surprising; nor is the finding that three-quarters would reduce their digital activities a great deal if they had to pay several hundred dollars a year or more for the content they currently get for free. (After all, they’re already paying service providers to access the internet…)

It appears that the DAA arrived at the figure of “several hundred dollars a year” to access ad-supported free content by summing up the estimated cost of paying subscription fees for what is currently mostly free. Consumers estimated, for example, that on the low end they would have to pay $3.87 per month to access weather forecasts such as those provided by and Accuweather. On the high end, they would expect to have to pay $7.83 per month to continue to watch their favorite videos and shows should all video providers such as YouTube, Hulu and Facebook begin to charge subscription fees, and $7.75 per month should sports sites and apps like Bleacher Report and ESPN do the same.

It’s worth noting that the DAA has an agenda and has previously pushed consumers’ interest in targeted over random advertising. And when it comes to ad-free content, the ongoing growth of Netflix (believed to be in part due to its avoidance of ads) is one example of consumer willingness to pay subscription fees for digital content.

Nevertheless, a separate study, this one from TUNE [download page], finds little interest in paying for ad-free content on mobile devices. Based on a survey of almost 4,000 smartphone owners in the US and UK aged 13 and older, the study indicates that almost 7 in 10 would not be willing to pay anything to block all ads in all apps – not even $1 per year. Interestingly, younger respondents were more likely than their older counterparts to be willing to pay something to block all ads; more than 8 in 10 respondents aged 65 and older would be unwilling to pay anything. What about ad blockers? Apparently, respondents who have installed ad blockers are no more willing to pay to block all ads in all apps. As the analysts note, “those who want to block ads want to do it for free.”

Recently-released research from Accenture, though, found 84% of the more than 28,000 consumers surveyed around the world saying that ad interruptions while reading text or watching video online are too frequent. Half as many (42%) said that they are planning in the next 12 months to pay for new solutions to remove advertising interruptions (such as a paid subscription).

About the Data: The Digital Advertising Alliance survey was conducted online by Zogby Analytics from April 19-20, 2016 among 1,004 US adults.

The data for the TUNE report is based on the responses of 3,939 smartphone owners aged 13 and older (2,939 in the US and 1,000 in the UK).

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