News outlets like The New York Times and Wall Street Journal erecting paywalls are struggling to convince readers that quality content is worth paying for. In this week’s Data Points, Adweek’s exclusive Harris poll gauged consumer willingness to pay for news content online. The results weren't encouraging for wall builders. Most people still don’t want to pay for their news—and those who are willing to pay don’t want to shell out very much.
Of consumers polled in December 2009, 23 percent said that they would pay for daily online news. A similar poll in March, 2011 saw that number decline to 20 percent. In both groups, the majority said that they would only be willing to pay up to $10 for online content. Very few consumers in either group said that they would pay more than $20 for news online (the Times payment plans vary from $15 to $35 per month).
Could advertising revenue close the gap between what consumers are willing to pay and what news outlets want to charge? Maybe. According to data from eMarketer, by 2015, online ad spending will increase from the current $28.5 billion to $44.5 billion, with retail, automotive, and consumer packaged goods leading the way.