Facebook is getting ready to test paid subscriptions with publications

By Aarthi Rayapura July 12, 2017

Excerpts from an article by Lucia Moses in DigiDay

Facebook is moving ahead on plans to let people subscribe to publications through Instant Articles. Nothing’s final, but the current thinking is that it will support publications with metered paywalls and freemium models, said a source familiar with the briefings. These options would seem to accommodate metered publications including Facebook skeptic The New York Times; and The Wall Street Journal and The Economist, which make a certain selection of articles free and put the rest behind a paywall.

Facebook seems to have made other concessions to publishers. They’ll have access to all subscriber data, according to the source, which publishers want so they can understand their audience better. A controversial proposal to let people buy bundles of publications from different companies is now off the table. Publishers also are expected to have full control over pricing.

Several details of the subscription feature are still undecided. They include how payments will be handled and if Facebook will take a cut of subscription sales. Payments are complicated because when they go through smartphones’ app stores, the stores take a 30 percent cut. One publisher said Facebook is leaning toward letting them be handled through the mobile web, which would eliminate a layer of complexity and the app stores’ cut and would let publishers have more control over pricing and data. It’s also unclear if publishers would get data on users’ reading history, as they can on their own site and which can help them tailor offers.

Read the full article on DigiDay

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