There’s been a lot of talk recently about the need for online businesses to utilize ads for revenue. It came up recently with relation to Facebook’s business model. The possibility of offering a premium ad-free service was introduced. But is that really something people want to do? If so, how much should that monthly or yearly charge be? We asked our writers, “Would you pay to use social media ad-free?”
While Simon recognizes that social media has difficulties trying to remain usable while still keeping their bookkeeping in the black, he doesn’t use social media nearly as much as he used to a few years ago, so a “premium option” without ads isn’t of much interest. “Even if the sites put up a paywall to use their service, I won’t put up any money to use it.” He adds that there’s just so many useful and free social apps on mobiles these days, so paying for one doesn’t make much sense.
Andrew would pay, yet he doesn’t think that’s the “big-picture answer to advertising and privacy problems.” He notes the reason Facebook even has “the huge network effect it does is because it has very low barriers to entry.” If they started charging, they’d lose users who don’t place as much value on the social network. He believes any network that did that would be limiting its growth, making it worth less in the end run.
He adds that a Facebook user in North America is worth $82 while the global average is $20. That means they’d have to charge $82, while recent studies show that Facebook users only show its value at $40 to $50. He sees a two-tiered solution working, free and premium, as well as a solution where users can store their data locally, then just send out anonymous requests for anonymous ads.
Robert wouldn’t personally pay, as he’s not as “militantly” opposed to advertising as others. He believes we get incredible services, such as social media and cloud storage, for free because of advertising and don’t know another way. But he does believe a paid option should exist. He thinks it would be interesting to see how many would utilize it, figuring “those complaining of the insidious effects of advertising wouldn’t actually go ahead and get the paid service.”
Damien reports “I am no so heavily invested in social media, but having some ads in it doesn’t bother me at all.” He wouldn’t pay personally.
Ada doesn’t use social media, but if she did, wouldn’t be willing to pay for membership unless it offered something exceptional. “An ad block here or there isn’t a huge problem to me, so I am okay with a free service with some ads.”
Kenneth uses social media a lot, and it doesn’t bother him to have ads. He adds “I’ve found some useful, targeted ads that link to products that I didn’t even know existed but are very valuable.” So he wouldn’t pay.
Ryan doesn’t use social media that much, so the ads don’t bother him, yet he doesn’t think it would ever be an option for two reasons. For one, everyone is accustomed to social media being free, not realizing they are paying for it with their data and privacy and not dollars. Secondly, “social media companies know they stand to make a heck of a lot more money by harvesting and selling data than they ever could with a flat user fee.”
I use Facebook a lot, and the ads do not bother me in the least. When I get ads or services that offer a free and premium version, I do sometimes opt for the premium version, but it’s not to eliminate ads – it’s because I want the extra services the premium service offers.
Our writers have a variety of answers based both on their own personal use and what value they feel ads or being ad-free would bring. How do you feel about this topic? Would you pay to use social media ad-free? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.