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Video and Entertainment Top the Smartphone Paid Content Chart

107 million people own smartphones and it’s estimated that over 50% of the population will own one by Q2 of 2013. That’s not just a lot of phones, that’s a lot of content in the form of apps, videos, music, and ebooks.

According to the new report,  “A Portrait of Today’s Smartphone User,” from The Online Publishers Association, over half of all smartphone owners are using their phones to access content on a daily basis. The majority said they use it to check the weather, 31% use it to watch video, news, sports, and entertainment content follow after that.

Unfortunately for content creators, only 24% of users paid for the content on their phone. Here’s a look at what people are willing to pay for:

If you combine Video, Movies and TV Shows, you get a healthy chunk of change. It’s proof that people will pay even when they’re surrounded by free content. I never thought I’d pay to stream video but now I fork over around $20 a month for both Netflix and Hulu so I can watch TV on my iPad. A year ago, I wouldn’t have considered it, but now it feels like a good deal.

Looking only at apps, we find that iPhone owners drop the most money per year but even the highest bracket (17%) only spent between $1 and $5 over the whole 12 months.

The good news, is that paid apps aren’t the only way to monetize mobile. OPA’s study shows that mobile users have a more positive attitude toward advertising than computer users. 39% said the were “driven to take action after seeing a smartphone ad,” and 15% have clicked through on a mobile ad.

When you look at people who paid for content, the percentages get even higher, with 79% taking action after seeing an ad and 31% clicking through. 30% said they used a special offer they found on their mobile device and 24% made a purchase in a store after seeing an ad.

Those are some nice numbers.

The bottom line is this. In spite of the rapid growth in smartphone ownership and app usage, the paid portion simply isn’t keeping up. That means marketers have to get creative if they want to find ways to monetize the usage. In game purchases and upgrades, affiliate links, ads and coupons for web or brick stores, are all good ways to amass a few more pennies on mobile. But don’t underestimate the power of a branded, free app. Deliver something useful or fun and consumers will see your name every time they access the app and that’s good business.