Will Readers Pay to Support Ad-Free Sites?

Ask any blog reader and they will tell you that they hate ads on websites. But are readers willing to pay to fund their favorite sites to go ad-free?

Though it seems reasonable to assume that readers would be willing to pay a small fee to support an ad-free favorite site, the answer seems far from true. Mike Vorhaus has the answers to this question on Advertising Age

When we asked consumers if they would pay $39.99 a year, which comes out to less than $4 a month, for an ad-free version of one of their favorite sites, only 2.4% said definitely yes, they would be likely to do so. And only 3.5% said they’d be very likely. In fact, 84% of the people said they’d be unlikely or not at all likely. At the lower price of $29.99 a year, or less than $3 a month, only another 1.9% of consumers said they would be very likely to pay for an ad-free version.

Advertising is a major source of income for most websites. Now readers have got so used to seeing ads on websites, that ad blindness sets in and they don’t mind seeing ads (except when publishers have more ads than content). So why should they pay to read free content, while the publisher earns a few ad dollars to support the site and publish the content.

Though most feeds are also getting cluttered by ads, many sites still have ad-free RSS feeds and regular readers prefer this reading mode (here are some videos about what is RSS). I noticed many publishers are switching to services like The Deck, which will only display maximum one high paying ad only.


  1. Chris says:

    I don’t mind seeing ads at all because I know that’s what it takes to keep these sites free. Heck, I even click on a contextual ad from time to time.

    The only time I hate ads is when they’re intrusive like pop-ups or those “Subscribe to Our Newsletter” images that pop up and make you click yes or no before reading the article. In that case, I still wouldn’t pay, I just won’t go back to that website.

  2. QuickOnlineTips says:

    @Chris – I agree popup ads are the most annoying of the lot.

  3. westpenninewoman says:

    I seldom read ads on websites and I’m probably not the only one. I’m only really interested in the content.

    In the UK a survey was done a few years back about TV ads and most people admitted to changing channels when ads came on! All that money wasted in expensive advertising campaigns.

  4. AskYourPC says:

    I just make sure that my ads are not annoying. I make them fit in with my content. I don’t expect people to linger but get their information they need and if they are interested in an ad they can check it out. But I try not make my website full of anoying visual ads but text ads.

  5. Barrie Ornzitt says:

    I am searching for a submission site that lists all sites without advertising.
    If indeed there is one. I imagine it would have to be ‘run’ by a non profit organisation that relies on some small Donation ($2 sound good. Didn’t the President do something along these lines?). I for one would recommend it and display a logo on our site.
    I believe, honest web users would welcome such a move to enable faster and less annoying Flash banners one has to deal with on most web sites these days. ‘Beware those who suffer from epilepsy’ is a phrase that comes to mind.

    Barrie Ornzitt. Art reviewer and Critic for the W.O.R.K group Sweden.

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