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What do buyers of online news content look like?

Are people willing to pay for online news content? This question has been studied by many people, academic and auctioneers alike. The answer which has consistently been brought is that users are indeed willing to pay for content. But results have to be interpreted carefully. Most surveys deal with “purchase intentions”, which is not the same as “actual purchase”. You may well declare to someone you intend to buy something; but when the time comes to take the money out of your wallet, the outcome may well be different.

Where live people willing to pay for news content?

First we have to address the question of where paying users live. Interestingly, as a Reuter annual survey reveals, the countries where news content is purchased may well be different from the ones you have in mind. Reuters already did a survey in 2013 (paying for digital news 2013) and the top countries were Italy and Urban Brazil. In the 2014 edition of the same survey, guess what … it has changed slightly but Brazil is still ahead, followed by Finland and Italy. France is number 4, just before USA. Many of you would have bet that American citizens would have been ahead of the crowd. They’d have been wrong.

How old are people willing to pay for news content?

Different studies reveal that those who are willing to pay for digital news content are aged 25 to 35. The reason is not a purchasing power one, but rather –and quite logically- a technological one. As Goyanes (2014) recalls:

Empirical studies have demonstrated that the online services customers are more willing to pay for are those used frequently and those that are important to a customer

In other words, older customers, despite a higher buying power, are less tempted to buy online content because they don’t manage the channel (the Internet) and the devices well enough (compared to the younger generation of course). It’s almost tautological.

What are behavioral patterns of those potential online content buyers?

What the Reuters study reveals is that platform matters. Apple users are more likely to buy content, and devices also play an important role. Tablet users buy online content twice as often as computer users. This is a very important insight for those who want to change their business models in the media sector and move from offline to online content. If your online content is not responsive, be prepared to fail. You go even go one step further and develop specific content for tablets. As we will see in the next post, one media group just launched such an offer. But that’s another story.

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Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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