Pay Per Read Study Results
This study from Vegan Outreach compares the impact of two pro-veg pamphlets in order to measure the effectiveness of paying people to read outreach literature. In addition to seeing how much people changed their behavior based on being exposed to the different leaflets, the study also measured how much money (in the form of pay-per-read payments) might be required to effect pro-veg behavior change per person. The results provide insight into the effectiveness of different literature, as well as the kind of budgeting that might be useful for pay-per-read outreach programs.
For this pilot study, Vegan Outreach joined up with ReadingRewards, to establish how effective “pay-per-read” programs are at getting an animal advocacy message across. The pay-per-read concept has been around for a while, with different organizations monetizing views, such as offering a few dollars to watch a short video on factory farming. This study looked at how effective certain literature is in generating changes to behavior, in addition to assessing exactly how much money is required to bring about the desired change in people. Using two different pamphlets that took contrasting approaches – “Your Choice” (YC) and “Even If You Like Meat” (EI) – the researchers surveyed the participants to see how much they felt they would change based on the material they read. All participants were again surveyed a month later to see if they had actually changed.
The researchers found that EI, a pamphlet that had “more text, citations, and more graphic images” was more impactful for the readers. The YC pamphlet, which made a point of showing how going veg was a social trend, was not as effective. The researchers noted that this “goes somewhat against the social research that suggests that seeing other people like you doing something is the most powerful motivator for change.” In terms of age demographics, the study found that, by a fairly large margin, people above 50 (specifically older women) were most likely to change, flying in the face of prevailing wisdom. “The fact that older women were more likely to change their diet than younger women or men was also surprising,” said the researchers. “It’s hard to believe that this finding isn’t an anomaly, but definitely worth paying attention to more for the future.” In terms of the actual amount of change generated by the funding spent, “the results suggested that 1 out of every 60-100 readers may have become pescetarian, vegetarian, or vegan due to reading the pamphlet,” noted the researchers. Though they do say that “these results are highly uncertain due to lack of statistical significance,” if they were indicative it would mean that, “at a cost of $0.44 per read, it would be $26.50-$44.15 per major diet change.”
In his summary of the findings, Jack Norris cautions that he doesn’t “think this survey should necessarily be taken as the final word on which booklet to use. The fact is, for most leafleters, YC is a lot easier to hand out and possibly handing out more could overcome the fact that if someone reads the entire booklet, they are more likely to change from an EI.” He suggests that the findings act as a good base for further study, and notes that in the future, he hopes that Vegan Outreach will look at “larger groups of people to possibly achieve statistical significance; longer time periods; reading pamphlets versus watching videos; incremental approaches versus a harder sell for veganism; environmental, health, and animal arguments compared to each other.” If that research is undertaken, it’s easy to see how the findings would be very useful for animal advocates.