People Pay To Connect Online

from the if-you've-got-something-different... dept

People have this morbid fascination with the question of whether or not people will pay for stuff online. Unfortunately, too many companies are looking at charging online simply because they say what they produce has some sort of inherent value – and without understanding the basic economics behind charging for content. What they seem to be missing is that if that content/service has some sort of closely matched equivalent available for free, then charging will never work. However, for services that do offer some unique value that actually takes advantage of the benefits the internet provides, it seems people are willing to pay. The article talks about how people pay to make “connections” online, describing sites like, and – all of which provide a service that isn’t just static content, but which use the internet to make dynamic content more valuable by connecting people in some way. Of course, with service plays like that, you have an issue of who becomes the dominant player first, since so much of the attraction is the critical mass. People are willing to pay for these services, since they know that their databases are fairly large, and others know to go there for the same service. It’s not so easy to just throw a similar service up there and say “ok, now I can charge also”.

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Comments on “People Pay To Connect Online”

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Marc Nathan says:

Re: People don't want to pay

While I agree that data itself has become a commodity with an intrinsic value of zero, I strongly believe that information derived from that data (aka the difference that makes a difference) is and always will be valuable. News headlines or stock quotes mean nothing without context. Practical application, trending, or whatever you want to call comprehensive analysis is certainly something that has a value and can (and should) be sold for whatever the market will bear. I would gladly pay a reasonable price for the blogs and emails I read that offer comparisons, reviews, or analysis of products, services or news, but I can?t justify paying for the news itself. Another way to put this concept is I would not pay for the Front Page, but I would pay for the Op/Ed. Peer-to-peer expert networks have more value than top-down producer-to-consumer websites because each user in the former has a personal stake in the community, which “corporate” FAQ’s cannot replicate. This is why ?evaluated? responses to anything from online auction users to online dating services will thrive, while zines repackaging content from AP and Reuters will not.

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