Americans place a value of more than $1,400 per year on the array of free online services, digital content, and mobile apps that are currently funded by advertising, according to a new survey conducted by the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA).

Respondents said those ad-supported content and services were worth $1,404 annually, an increase of $206.64 – or 17% – over the $1,197 that respondents assigned in value to such services in a similar survey in 2016.

“With tens of millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet, ad-supported digital content and services save families significant money by reducing the cost for access to vital information, tools, and content, so it is imperative we continue our work of protecting the advertising model that helps fund those services,” said Lou Mastria, executive director of DAA. “Paying an additional $1,400 per year for access to popular websites, services, and apps is not a viable option for most Americans. The DAA will continue to provide convenient and effective tools for choice around the types of advertising consumers want to receive.”

Ad-supported digital content and services save families significant money by reducing the cost for access to vital information, tools, and content.

Free Online Services

Among the survey’s other findings:

  • The vast majority (85%) say they would reduce their online and mobile activities if they had to pay hundreds of dollars a year for the content and services they currently get for free.
  • Four in five respondents (80%) say they would be more likely to purchase a mobile phone offering more free apps over a comparable phone with fewer free apps.
  • Nearly all the respondents (93%) say free Internet content such as news, weather, email, and blogs is very or somewhat important to them.
  • A large majority (84%) say they prefer the current ad-supported Internet where most content and services are free over a paid Internet with no advertising.

Conducted via SurveyMonkey among 1,080 US adults, the survey sought to quantify the aggregate value that Americans assign to the major types of services and content that are currently available for free because of advertising.

Respondents were asked to estimate how much people would have to pay for 19 different types of online services and content, ranging from e-mail to video, maps, sports, and weather if they were offered only on a subscription basis rather than for free with ads. The total estimated cost of those services, assigned by survey respondents, was $116.99/month or $1,403.88/year.

The survey was conducted on September 16-17, 2020. Based on a confidence interval of 95 percent, the margin of error for the survey is +/- 3 percent. The full survey results are posted on the DAA website.

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