Facebook and a handful of news outlets are testing a subscription-based news feature in Instant Articles. After reading 10 articles or more for free, readers will be redirected by Facebook to the publisher’s website to subscribe. Facebook won’t benefit financially from the new feature.
Facebook announced earlier this week that the company is joining forces with ten news organizations in the U.S. and Europe to see if the subscription model in Instant Articles works as intended. They will first test the feature on Android.
iOS won’t be part of the deal because Apple had asked up to 30 percent of the ad money generated via Instant Articles. This year, ad revenue for Instant Articles has jumped more than 50%.
Facebook’s partners for the test include The Economist, the German magazines ‘Bild’ and ‘Spiegel,’ The Boston Globe, The Telegraph, France’s Le Parisien, The Washington Post, Houston Chronicle, and LA Times.
The new feature will come in two versions. There’s the option for a paywall which is activated after at least 10 free articles and there’s the option of freemium models which gives publishers more control as they can select which articles to lock.
Publishers Have Full Control over Data, Payments
Facebook’s Instant Articles will prompt users that are not subscribers of a news product to sign up on the publisher’s website and app. If readers choose to subscribe, the financial transactions and payments will happen on the news organization’s platform. Publishers will not share the revenue with Facebook.
What’s more, news organizations will have exclusive access to subscriber data and they’ll be the ones to establish the pricing, not Facebook.
Readers that already have a subscription will be able to certify their subscriptions via Facebook’s Instant Articles.
Facebook also plans to test a subscribe button placed on top of the news pieces and the possibility to subscribe via e-mail or an app installation.
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