What are Digital Natives Willing to Pay For?


I recently read an interesting take on Chris Anderson’s assertion that the future of business is free from Max Kalehoff on his AttentionMax blog (a must-subscribe-to site).

I want your perspective as digital natives. Most of us actually started high school in ’99 when Napster was formed. We suddenly had money in our pockets to burn as we were older, had more allowance or started our first real jobs. Yet, we were crazy excited about this notion that we’d never have to pay for music again. Of course most of us now still microspend on music in some form through iTunes’s .99 cent downloads (I’m completely addicted) or pay-what-you-wish models.

In any event, most of us grew up with the notion that the following should inherently be free: music, newspapers, movies, TV show downloads, magazines (if you can find a free table at your local bookstore to read them), social networking sites… If that means adding more ads to the content we crave, we generally accept that.

So, for our generation, what’s still worth paying for?? I want everyone from my generation to drop your thoughts here or on Max’s post.

My quick thoughts- I pay for music, newspapers on certain days of the week, a few magazines I find really valuable, movies (iTunes or Amazon rentals and in-thearter showings generally) and pay for a pro account on Flickr. I will probably never buy another CD in my life, but I’m totally willing to pay for a digital track I can move from my computer to my mobile devices and can be assured doesn’t have a virus attached; I don’t pay for anything that takes up a lot of physical space but I will always pay for something that saves space (like hosting tons of photos on Flickr rather than saving them on my computer or printing them out); I am totally willing to pay for a great experience (great movie I have to see in the theaters with friends, for example) and considering I’m about to graduate from an expensive four year school, I’m totally willing to pay for anything that really makes me smarter or better as a person/professional- although now I’m wondering if there’s an advertising-subsidized model for college tution… :)

Image from Wired.

-Amanda Mooney


4 Responses to “What are Digital Natives Willing to Pay For?”

  1. Amanda,
    Thanks for your attention — which is not free…I suppose I earned it. Regarding ad-subsidized education, there are already are TONS of advertising supported educational ventures. You tend to see it in the form of sponsorships at industry conferences — where, among many, the objective is to learn. There was an attempt by Whittle Communications called Channel One. Even core to the university establishment, consider all the advertising revenue that is brought in via division one sports.

  2. Hey Amanda,

    I’ve been thinking, and I honestly think that I don’t pay for anything online. Email, im, social networks, the New York Times, google, wikipedia, the dictionary, and everything else I use on a daily basis is all free to me. I expect these things to be free, because that is the only way I have ever known them to be and I like them free (who likes paying for things?). I have never even considered the possibility of having to pay for them at all. Which is probably why I don’t mind the ads that come a long with them. (The New York Times sends me an email full of ads every single day, when the subject line interests me, I open it and when it doesn’t it just gets deleted and no harm was done.) And to be honest about 90%, if not more, of the media that I consume comes from the internet, and I don’t pay for any of it.

    I do pay for magazines. I really don’t like reading magazines online, although I don’t know many that make all their content available online (or maybe I haven’t looked). I’ll buy them every once in a while when I know I’ll be stuck in a long flight. Now that I think about it though, magazines are so full of ads that they too should be free, and in that case so should cable. But that’s not going to happen, or maybe it will.

    I believe that free content in exchange for advertising (which I think is more profitable anyway) is a fair deal. Having to pay for content and still have to deal with ads I think is a little annoying, at least online (traditional media is another story, I guess).

    I really don’t know what I’m willing to pay for, I’ve never really paid for anything.


  3. This is a really good question.
    I suppose I should start out with:
    — I pay for the Internet. I pay for the fastest, ‘bestest’ Internets out there. I pay to be hooked in and wired up. What does it matter if the rest is free? I pay to be here. Short of if you’re using a slow, free library or .edu hookup, you are paying, too. I also pay for my cell phone, my plan, my txts, etc.

    I do buy CDs. Call me oldschool, but I love album art, I love the tangibility, and having the pictures on (my nonexistant) iPhone or Touch just doesn’t do it for me. I love the stacks of CDs that litter my room. So in addition to iTunes .99/song, which I do quite often, I do still purchase CDs.

    There are some magazines I would buy if they weren’t so expensive. I mooch of my mother’s copy of Creativity mag. There are a couple of advertising spot archives I’d pay for, but again, it’s too steep for me to really contemplate. I don’t pay upwards of 50 for an online subscription.

    I agree with you though, I do pay for quality experience, where ever I find it, be it skydiving or a nice movie theatre or a great dinner out or a splurge in my fave NYC boutique.

    And I will pay for something online if I feel the need to alter my “identity”–ie, since I started my livejournal back in middle school, I’ve changed my username at least 4 or 5 times at $15 a pop to match the growing me.

  4. 4 Sarah

    Right now, I even get annoyed when I have to pay for Inernet at the airport! The only thing I’ll pay for online is probably iTunes. Oh, I also used to have a Webshots account but I don’t think they charge anymore.

%d bloggers like this: