Posted December 8, 2008 4:23 pm by with 25 comments

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How much would you pay, if anything, to make your favorite sites ad-free? That’s the question AdAge asked consumers, and they found very interesting results. AdAge wanted to know how much a year you (the consumer) would pay to remove ads from your favorite sites per year. For a consumer’s favorite sites, you’d expect many of them to be willing to pay. Their study proved otherwise.

Only 2.4% of consumers said they would definitely pay $39.99/year for their favorites sites to go ad-free. That works out to less than $4 per month! Another 3.5% said they would be very likely. Here are the rest of the results:

adage chart on consumer willingness to pay for ad-free content

I was completely blown away that 82% of consumers would be unlikely/not likely at all to pay $29.99 a year for their favorite sites to be ad-free. What if Twitter gave us that option? Would you be willing to pay to keep Twitter ad-free?

  • I’m not surprised at all!
    1st of all – we got used to all ads no matter what their form is.
    2nd – We are in the middle of an economic crisis, for crying out loud – Why would I pay for someone to stop trying to sell me stuff?
    I can’t buy = I don’t see you or your ad.
    I’m surprised that someone thought to make money out of it (selling internet users an ad-free online sphere… ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • I wouldn’t be willing to pay and the ads don’t bother me one bit. Since I am an online marketer I of course enjoy viewing the ads but I can see how the results turned out the way they did. People are cheap…period.

    Matt Helphrey’s last blog post..The Money Spot is Above the Fold

  • I’m not surprised having seen a couple of sites implement various subscription fees and see user figures drop significantly – it would be interesting to know whether it tallies with sites that actually use this system.
    I think IGN uses this option on sites like Gamespot etc?

    It definitely goes with the philosophy that many people are used to content etc being provided for free if it’s online, and that monetisation has to come from other means – I think it also would depend on the specific site in question – something like Twitter would probably find it hard to find many takers as a mass exodus to one of the many alternatives such as would mean much of the value of Twitter is gone very quickly.

    The sites where this method could work require high value content etc which can’t be obtained elsewhere – something that’s pretty rare!

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  • I would pay for very few sites and like the others have said ads usually don’t bother me too much. As long as I am not thrown with ads all over the place, I can deal with a few ads here or there.

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  • Where did the ridiculous figure of $39.99 come from in the first place? At the very best, a single user of a popular website might represent a few pennies of annual revenue. The question to ask is how many users would be willing to $0.99?

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  • Ray Metzen

    Besides the funny figure of $39.99 the survey also failed to take ad blockers into account. The choice users have is not just between tolerating the ads or paying to have them removed, they can also remove the ads themselves — for free! Seeing that the AdBlockPlus extension for Firefox, for instance, has 300,000+ downloads a week, there are obviously many users who take that route.

  • not likely to pay at all 69% ๐Ÿ™‚ does it suprised you?

  • I’d pay for Twitter, not more than $30 per month though. The reason I wouldn’t pay for most sites is that they are offering information for my consumption to market themselves to me – why would I, as the observer, pay their marketing bill? I don’t think pay-for-content sites will last much longer and certainly won’t be the wave of the future.

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  • Not even sure why this survey even took place. That verdict has been out for a decade. This topic comes up every couple years or some company tries the pay for premium content business model and they get their lunch eaten by a free competitor. There is just too much of an upside to the ad supported model, namely not being obligated to provide support, less accounts receivable work, and efforts wasted securing your content from illegal distribution. The only reason I can see to use a pay for content model in this day and age is that you realy enjoy headaches.

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  • Not very surprising at all – I actually like some ads and find many of them useful. I wouldn’t pay to have any sites I visit ad free. It seems like the annoying ads have already made their way towards the trash can.

  • I think they are asking the wrong question. People are less tied to a website than they are to a magazine. The beauty of the web and web 2.0 is you can jump around, subscribe to bits and pieces, etc. If I pay $29.99 for each of the 100+ sites I visit, that’s a ton of money!

    The question should have been, would you pay $9.99 a month to have all advertising removed from all websites you visit. No banner ads, no text ads, no more advertising at all (except maybe search text ads). Given low CTRs on banners and other online ads, that is probably the right price.

    Now THAT would be an interesting question to get answered.

    AdAge is still tied to the old media thinking that people consume websites like a newspaper or magazine. That’s not quite right.

  • If Its twitter, then I’d pay. But if its a website that I read everyday – like say Techcrunch, RWW or even Marketing Pilgrim – I’d prefer to keep the ads.

    It might sound strange to you but I actually love to see ads – because kind of keeps me up-to-date with the new startups & services that are coming out. Every time I see a new banner ad, if the text/graphic is appealing to me – I always click and find out more about the company and their service.

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  • I think I will pay for twitter. I do not know with other service, I will pay or not ๐Ÿ˜€

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  • I am used to ads by now, and actually feel some sites might look rather bland if all the eye candy is removed. I definitely won’t pay to dodge ads, it doesn’t make financial sense to me!

  • That is really interesting survey. It could make sense to allow such a feature on big sites, and as survey shows it could have participants who would use it. Personally i really don’t made on ads, because sometimes i come to some interesting ones that i can check out if want something specific.

  • No, twitter is a different ball game. I would not be willing to pay to keep it ad free.

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  • Would you pay $40 a year to be able to speak directly, over the phone, to the author of your favorite site?

  • not to pay 69%…well i belong to this section then..

  • I definitely wouldn’t pay. On content sites, it’s easy for me to ignore the ads; perhaps because I’m part of a generation that’s been bombarded with advertising since infancy, so it’s just natural to tune it out. But whenever an ad DOES catch my eye, I usually click on it, and it ends up being something helpful, and I’m glad the ad was there in the first place.

    I also really enjoy the :30 spots between streaming TV shows, especially on They make them short, catchy, funny, and sometimes even interactive. And hey, I get to watch that TV show TIVO messed up on for free, so I can’t complain.

  • I wouldn’t. I think that’s silly. Ads, for the most part are out of the way. And many times if targeted right can provide the very products or information that I need. Just don’t like the ones that are super intrusive. Follow me on the screen and can’t close. lol

  • Site with ads? i think its very useful since they can give to us new product/service information. Its not just about heavy site load.. i never pay my pav site to get adsfree, i always click the ads when i see something new and make me interesting. I think its normal for some people dont want ads on their pav site, and iam sure many people love ads on their pav site for same reason as me.

  • I am not going to pay at all ๐Ÿ˜›
    Well, a simple AdBlock Plus or NoScript (Firefox addons) can do that trick for free. Why to pay for that?

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  • $30 is a lot to make a site ad free! I have considered doing it for one of mine but would only charge a few dollars. Although it’s not nearly on the same scale as Twitter or Digg, I believe it’s all relative. They have a lot more members, so they’d make a lot more than I would. Also, I feel that any money is better than nothing, especially if it makes your more devoted members happy. They are the ones most likely to have ad blindness too, so you wouldn’t be making much, if any revenue off of them anyway.

    drivelocity’s last blog post..Black and Decker Thermal Leak Detector

  • As long as ads are tasteful I would rather not pay and most the time when they are not its not in my “favorite” sites. Ads make a lot of resources free and can be helpful sometimes.

  • Spook SEO

    $39.99 or even $29.99 is a lot of money just to make my favorite site ad free. Actually, advertisements are not nuisance all of the time. Some are actually interesting and some are even itelligent. Therefore I belong to the majority who would opt to see ads in my site rather than give away a lot of money for a little thing.