article In a new report, a team of researchers led by Princeton University’s Andrew W. Mellon, along with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, find that people are willing to spend more money on printed articles than those that do not.
The researchers used an interactive tool to track how people spend money on different types of printed content, and they found that a large majority of respondents are willing “to pay more than others” to view printed articles, such as newspapers, magazines and TV shows.
That said, they found a few outliers that were willing to be “very selective” about how much they paid for printed content.
“People were willing, but not always, to pay a lot more than they are willing now,” says Mellon, who led the project with fellow Princeton University researcher Daniel J. Smith.
“For example, people were willing on average to pay $5,000 more than the average reader would pay to view an article.”
One reason for the difference is that some people view print articles more frequently than others, the researchers say.
“This is partly because people are more likely to read the same article more often than the same newspaper, but it’s also because there are differences in how people read newspapers,” Smith says.
The research team also found that people who see printed content in a store are more willing to take the plunge than others.
“If you look at people who shop online, they spend more than people who don’t,” says the report’s senior author, Daniel J., Smith.
While people may be willing to commit to paying more for printed media, the amount of time they spend online could be an important factor.
“The people who read more, the people who pay more, and the people with more disposable income, are spending more,” Smith said.
For example, the average cost of a print magazine is $5.99, which makes it “the most expensive printed content of all time.”
The study also found people are likely to choose printed content over digital, and digital content is more likely for those who read online.
But for those people who have limited digital media, printed media is the better option.
“Digital content can be more costly than printed media for many reasons,” Smith noted.
“It’s less likely to have the same amount of content that people see online.
People who buy print content also have more options online, which is more appealing.
But it’s still cheaper than digital.”
The findings, the authors say, “provide evidence that printed content is a good investment.”
Smith said that the findings could help policymakers and consumers understand the benefits and drawbacks of print media, and he says printed media can help make print more affordable.
“Print is not a substitute for the internet,” Smith concluded.
“In some ways, printed content may even make print better for consumers.”
The paper, “Digital Printing and Printed Content in a Digital World,” will be published online by the Journal of Digital Marketing on Wednesday, and is co-authored by Smith, Mellon and Pauline A. Kowalska of Princeton University.
For more on print media and its impact on our society, see the WSJ.com Media Hub.