Irish internet users unlikely to pay for online content

13 Sep 2010

An overwhelming majority of Irish internet users will not pay for online content and are increasingly choosing to access free content from both traditional and new publishers.

According to the quarterly State of the Net bulletin from Amas and the Irish Internet Association, as some traditional publishers seek to put content behind “paywalls” in an attempt to stem the losses from their online operations, the trend is meeting with a negative response from internet users.

According to the Irish component of international KPMG research, 88pc of Irish users say they would not pay for content, with just 2pc saying they would pay for all content.

In an analysis of how the internet is changing the media landscape, State of the Net tracked changing media habits, such as the growth in smartphones and consumer demand for media “apps”.

It adds that the shift in behaviour is mirrored in the growth of digital advertising, which currently has a 10pc market share but this could double within the next few years if Ireland follows the trend of other European markets.

“Advertising follows audience, and advertising budgets in Ireland are already on the move from traditional to digital media,” said Aileen O’Toole, managing director of online consultancy Amas.

“If trends across Europe are a barometer, digital advertising will soon become a fifth of total advertising spend.”

But she argues it would be foolish to write off traditional media, particularly newspapers.

International studies such as the most recent from the OECD show that newspaper circulations are in decline globally and advertising revenues are under threat.

So traditional media organisations need to reinvent themselves in the digital age, with new forms of journalism, new audiences and new business models.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years