Consumer spending for online content in the U.S. grew 18.8% to nearly $1.6 billion in 2003 over the year before, according to a new study from the Online Publishers Association. Three content categories accounted for 64% of total spending in 2003: personals/dating, business/investment and entertainment/lifestyles. Excerpts with edits and comments:
- The personals and dating category continued to dominate, accounting for 28.8% of all Web content revenue last year. Consumers doled out $449.5 million on matchmaking sites in 2003, up 48.8% from 2002.
- Business and investment content providers reeled in $334.1 million last year, a 14.4% increase versus the year earlier. Though the entertainment and lifestyles category was among the top three revenue generators, spending on that type of content declined nearly 6% last year to $214 million.
- Credit-help sites and community-made directories also experienced a drop. The former was down 9.5% at $36.6 million, while the latter was off 4.6% at $87.6 million.
- Conversely, the personal growth category grew by a whopping 104.5% to $90.7 million last year. Other content categories notching notable increases: general news (up 25% to $87.5 million), sports (up 26.6% to $38.2 million) and greeting cards (up 12.3% to $40.6 million).
The study also found that 16.4 million U.S. consumers paid for online content in the fourth quarter, up 2.1 million over the same period in 2002.Monthly subscriptions have eclipsed annual subscriptions as consumers' pricing model of choice, with the former representing 49.6% of total subscription revenue and the latter 41.6%.
Paul writes,one of the most powerful ways to develop web site traffic is to enable users to share their content through your web site with others-to create community around user generated content.Many of the fastest growing web sites of all time did this (or do it now): MyFamily.com, eBay, GeoCities, Xoom, Homestead, MySpace, Epinions, Hotshots, LinkedIn.com, Meetup.com, Friendster, and more.If sites are uses to get customers to blog, use message boards, upload photos or reviews, the effect shall be dazzling.With open source software (for message boards, blogs, uploading photos, and more) and with the cost of hard drive storage a tiny fraction of what it was five years ago, the time has never been better to try a user generated content strategy.
My Take: As these show, user generated content and the content service gets more people to look at online content- not general content per se - the various facilities to collaboratively communicate and be a part of a like minded/related interest community id the differentiator attracting more and more people to experience the online world better.