Facebook to test paid subscriptions through Instant Articles

Facebook to test paid subscriptions through Instant Articles

As competition heats up with Apple News and Google News, Facebook’s own news consumption platform, Instant Articles, will be getting bolstered. The social media giant intends to test the ability for users to pay for subscriptions to publications via Instant Articles.

This news has come to light through Digiday, which cites an unidentified “source familiar with the briefings”. While plans have not been finalized, it appears that this new Instant Articles feature will support publications currently using metered paywalls and freemium models.

The source added that all subscriber data will be accessible to publishers seeking to better understand their audiences. Control over pricing is also expected to be entirely handed over to publishers, though the method of managing payments apparently remains undecided.

While payments going through smartphones’ app stores would be 30% taken by the stores, one publisher has said that Facebook might circumvent this cut by letting payments be handed via the mobile web instead. However, Facebook might still struggle to sufficiently satisfy publishers.

Some publishers have been reluctant to embrace Instant Articles, which would require them to relinquish more freedom concerning customer data and payment structures compared to posting content to Facebook in a more conventional manner.

In any case, Facebook reportedly intends to test its new subscription tools with a select few, albeit varied, publishers before broadening these tools’ availability next year. News organizations that Facebook has briefed one-on-one include The New York Times, The Economist, the UK’s Telegraph, and Germany’s Bild, pictured above as it can currently be seen on Instant Articles.

Craig Lenaghan
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