Americans back ad-supported internet

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The great majority of Americans (85%) prefer a free internet model backed by advertising to paying for online content, according to new research (reported on UK marketing site Warc) which puts a value of US$1200 a year on ad-supported online services and content.

An online survey by Zogby Analytics for the Digital Advertising Alliance polled 1004 adults and found that three quarters of respondents said they would reduce their online activities “a great deal” if they had to pay for those services and content.

And when they were invited to estimate how much they would have to pay for 17 different types of online services and content, ranging from e-mail to video and weather, if these were offered only on a subscription basis rather than for free with ads, they assigned values of a few dollars to each – $6.42 for email, for example, $6.27 to social media, and $4.46 to search engines.

Together the combined value amounted to $99.77 per month, or $1197.24 per year. Interestingly, the annual figure was rather more than the “several hundred dollars” that they had indicated would be enough to trigger reduced online activity.

Industry bodies talk about educating online consumers in the value exchange taking place when the latter use ad blockers and the survey results indicate a widespread appreciation in the US of the role of advertising in enabling free content and services, suggesting the problem lies not with advertising per se but the quality of that advertising.

Lou Mastria, Executive Director of the DAA, pointed out that ad-supported content and services now played a “critical role” in the lives of nearly every American.

“Consumers see tremendous value in the ad-supported content and services they use, and they overwhelmingly support the current ad-supported model,” he said.

Fully nine in 10 respondents said that free internet content like news, weather, e-mail and blogs were very important (73%) or somewhat important (17%) to them.

And 80% said they had found ads useful in finding new products, researching a purchase, or assisting with the shopping process.

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