07 Aug Facebook Looks For A Thumbs Up To Sell Subscriptions To Publications
As early as this fall, Facebook could begin allowing its users to read and subscribe to news publications – along with creating its own version of a paywall.
The world’s largest social network is still putting the details together of the plan, but earlier this month, Campbell Brown, head of Facebook’s New Partnerships Division, revealed that it is working on creating partnerships with mainstream digital media outlets to provide content to Facebook members, and also encourage users to buy subscriptions.
This can be a win for Facebook and for various news publishers, Brown said during the July annual meeting of the Digital Publishing Innovation Summit.
The subscription service will be available through an expansion of Facebook’s existing Instant Article service, which allows users to choose which types of digital content most interest them and search for this content.
Once the service is up and running, users can select from a variety of publications, most of which already offer different subscription rates and a varying amount of free views of articles.
Under Facebook’s model, all users visiting a publisher’s Facebook portal will receive 10 free views per publication before they must subscribe if they want to read more. Or if they’re already subscribers, they can log in there to continue reading.
Brown said Facebook still hasn’t figured out the pricing structure, including whether Facebook users will receive any sort of discounted rate, rather than subscribing at each publication’s site or signing up through an app service such as Apple or Google Play.
But there is definitely some convenience in being able to easily access so many publications in one place. Likewise, the publishers will enjoy being able to reach Facebook’s global audience, especially readers who already may have an interest in a particular topic or title. Publishers will also hopefully have better control of their content, rather than the current landscape where much of it is shared for free.
Another potential selling point for publishers is that they may be able to receive user data from Facebook about who is reading and subscribing, especially since the network does a superior job of gathering thorough demographic information about most of its subscribers.
This is an interesting move for Facebook, since the super social network has long maintained that its services will always be free to must users, with the exception of advertisers who can pay to have their ads or posts show up in front of more people. However, with this extra subscription service, it will require members to pay something.
So far, some media companies haven’t decided what this will all mean yet, and The New York Times still hasn’t committed or declined to be part of the initiative.