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Test: Perceived Value of High-Quality Content

Recently, Nielsen conducted a global survey of more than 27,000 consumers in 54 countries to examine attitudes about paying for online content -- and to determine which content types people were most willing to buy.

The study findings uncovered that consumers are either "willing to pay" for online content, or are "open to increased advertising" by content sponsors -- but that attitudes vary greatly by geography, demographics and content type.

Nielsen believes that people have therefore shown a higher propensity to pay for music, movies, games and "professionally produced" video -- in contrast to podcasts, blogs or consumer generated video.

Nielsen says this now validates that people still place more value on content produced by "professionals" than by others. Likewise, people are more inclined to buy what they already pay for, rather than on what they currently get for free.

Moreover, Nielsen concludes that while people are more willing to pay for professional content than the "amateur" equivalent, the reality shouldn't be taken for granted -- because not all content is created equal.

I think that we're all agreed, on the last part. Perceived quality matters.

However, I'm wondering if Nielsen has perhaps misinterpreted the findings. Meaning, people are likely willing to pay for what they consider to be high-quality content, regardless of the status of the producer.

In fact, if someone is prepared to pay you for content that you produce, then surely by definition you are a professional. Most entrepreneurs, and especially the young ones, might find the traditional definition of a "professional content producer" to be somewhat obsolete.

Over time, I believe that big-media companies may easily make erroneous assumptions about their potential customer's propensity to buy what they produce. Unfortunately, misinterpreted market research may contribute to their misguided belief that people place a high value on all their content.

Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch apparently feels compelled to test his hypothesis -- that people will pay him when he removes his content from the current advertiser-supported or sponsor-supported online business model. Once it's put to the test, this will be a very illuminating experiment.

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