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Opinion: Pay-to-play Web model trending forward

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With increased accessibility, efficiency and availability in online technology, Web trends are an ever-evolving and fluidic ocean of bits and bytes.

With the anonymous and Wild West style nature of the Internet, information has been sent and gathered like never before, opinions flow freely, and, in some cases, products that were once purchased are now downloaded through the tubes in a practice many governments have deemed illegal.

Whatever one’s stance might be on this subject is their own, but there is no denying the impact that pirating of media has had on both culture and business.

Avid Internetgoers will likely say that when one of these sites, such as the infamous, is stopped, 10 more will pop up to take its place.

But there does appear to be hope for the open-world marketplace of the Web for companies and businesspeople utilizing it as a sales tool.

In a recent survey, the Pew Internet & American Life Project – a subsidiary of Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank Pew Research Center – found that nearly two-thirds of Internet users have paid to download or access digital products.

The research center surveyed 755 Internet users between Oct. 28 and Nov. 1, asking a series of questions designed to ascertain Web users’ opinions concerning intangible digital products – articles, software and music among them.

Of the different types of media asked about in the query, 33 percent of users said they have paid for software, 33 percent said they have paid for digital music and 19 percent said they have paid for digital games.

Two figures are most important to Springfield Business Journal: 18 percent of users said they have paid for a digital newspaper, magazine or journal, and 11 percent said they have paid for members-only premium content from a Web site that also has free material available.

Our business news organization – no longer simply a newspaper – provides subscribers with both of these items.

The SBJ Early Friday Digital Edition, available only to subscribers, is a full PDF of the weekly issue, with a link sent to subscribers a day before the print edition arrives via mail.

Any SBJ subscriber is eligible to receive the product, and as a valued member of the aforementioned 18 percent, I would encourage you to take advantage of all that you are paying for.

That goes for, as well. Our editorial team works throughout the week to bring our online readers daily business news, most of which falls behind the Web site’s paywall. Links to daily stories are transmitted through our Daily Update e-mail product.

Any of our subscribers, even if they typically read only the physical copy of our paper, can register for access to our Web articles at, which also has a link to sign up for our e-newsletters.

We’re thankful for our number of paid subscribers and will continue to work tirelessly to increase that figure and appeal to the people who represent it.

It can sometimes be difficult to determine the value of a product you can’t physically hold in your hands, but the market appears to be moving in the direction of intangible concepts being sold as tangible and marketable products.

In a sales world quickly trying to prove that online purchases can be just as real as hand-held products – like a physical newspaper, for instance – it is likely that those companies that embrace the Web’s capabilities and tools will succeed in the fast-moving Internet sales landscape.
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