A new survey suggests that 45% of US readers would be happy to have free advertising-supported ebooks, rather than paying even 99 cents for an advertising-free version. When you add in the 14% of respondents who said their preferred option would be piracy, you’re left with around 40% who’s rather pay for an advertising-free ebook. The same survey (run by a company that works in the field of sponsored ebooks, by the way…) found similar figures for UK readers.
The survey focused on a shortish, 15-second pre-roll advert at the beginning of each chapter. This would be a fairly intrusive type of advertising, while other methods would include sponsored inclusion of products – effectively a type of product placement – as well as product links within the book’s text. Users have become accustomed to pre-roll advertising in recent years, particularly on video-sharing sites.
It’s best to take the results of these surveys with a pinch of salt. But with Amazon using advertising on its new Kindle range, it’s clear that this is a revenue stream that companies are actively pursuing. How long will it be before we start getting product placement deals for popular books? In a decade, perhaps self-published authors will be hoping not for a traditional publishing deal, but for an offer from a cola company to include their brand in novels for a fee?