Survey: 52% of media professionals abandon websites when they hit a paywall

DigiCareers | eMarketer

A new survey found that more than half of media professionals polled immediately leave a website after encountering a paywall. One-quarter said they were unlikely to return to the site, and 63 percent said that they expect to see no ads after crossing over a paywall.

More than 200 people, whom DigiCareers describes as new media professionals, were surveyed between April 16 and April 23, 2012; the margin of error is 6.9 percent with a confidence level of 95 percent.

In a Pew survey done two years ago, 15 percent of respondents said they would continue to use their favorite news website if there was a pay wall, while 82 percent said they'd get news somewhere else.

Between December 28, 2009 and January 19, 2010, Pew asked, "Would you continue to use your favorite news site if there was a pay wall? The pie chart shows the results for 2,259 respondents; the margin of error of is +/-2 percentage points.

The DigiCareers survey found 87 percent of respondents used free news and newspaper websites rather than ones that require payment; this behavior is a bit more widespread than the sentiment expressed two years ago, before paywalls were introduced at many publications.

Taken together, though, the results align with news organizations' goal to monetize their most loyal readers, which is typically about 15 percent of the audience.

As more news organizations introduce paywalls and fan Warren Buffett extends his newspaper ownership, a lot more readers and journalists are going to test this theory.

Related: Google Customer Survey questions are an offbeat alternative to a paywall | A year later, a look back at opining on the NYT paywall | Poynter asks loyal readers to donate using Press+

Julie Moos contributed to this report.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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