Trends 17: The Future of Free

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Chase Buckle / December 14, 2016

For large swathes of consumers, the right to access free online content is seen as sacrosanct. But, as our Trends 2017 report (available for free here) shows, with ad-blocking on the rise, there’s little recognition or willingness on the part of the consumer to accept that ads are at the core of this.

While some publishers have simply denied access to ad-blocker users (a tactic which is risky when so many competitors keep their doors open), others have tried to increase engagement with subscription-based models. The obvious problem here is that so many consumers remain reluctant to pay for online content which is currently available via ad-supported models (16% are paying for film/TV film streaming services, but 49% used one last month, for example).

In reality, willingness to pay is linked very strongly to the type of content on offer. Despite low figures, consumers are still a lot more likely to be paying for content streaming services like Spotify or Netflix than they are for news websites or premium web services.

Amazon Prime’s tactic of bundling an expanding host of services (music, movies, video, commerce perks, food delivery, etc.) under one monthly subscription plan could well be a glimpse of the future. More services could choose to combine things people will pay for with those they won’t, ensuring that both get revenue.

Download a free copy of our Trends 2017 report here.