You get what you (won't) pay for

March 19, 2010, 6:53 PM GMT+0

Most people do not want to pay for services on the internet, our research has found.

Further to recent our work on the relative influence of Google and Rupert Murdoch's plans to charge users of online content, we put a brief mini-survey on the end of some our other surveys and invited respondents to take a few short questions for fun, to investigate was people’s attitudes to paying for news content or social networking services online.

81% of respondents said they would not pay a £5-per-month subscription to have full access to leading news providers and online services. But the payment structure being offered (e.g. subscriptions vs. one-off payments) also made a significant difference to people’s responses, as micropayments proved far more popular than monthly subscriptions - in contrast to the above, only 72% would not pay a 2p-per-use micropayment for the same things as the £5 per month services.

The relative value of various content and social networking providers was clearly marked. Top of the pile was Google, as 34% of respondents would be most willing to pay, if they had to, for one of the services. Next came the BBC, for which 18% would pay if they had to choose one paid-for service. Facebook was singled out at 10%.

Very few respondents said they would pay for a newspaper online, if they had to pay for one: The Times (three percent), The Telegraph (two percent), The Guardian (one percent), and The Sun (one percent). The news gets worse for Murdoch, as no one would pay for use of MySpace, which News Corp bought for $580m in 2005.

There was a glimmer of hope for him, however, because although only seven percent of respondents said that they would be willing to make micropayments to access The Times online, this seven percent was drawn from the entire sample (many of whom would crucially not have been Times readers). It depends what proportion of Times readers would be willing to do it as to whether Murdoch’s plan to charge readers for online content will work.

A version of this story originally appeared here