The new tools promise long-awaited support for subscription-focused publishers, but is it too little too late?
Facebook have announced that they are expanding support for subscriptions in Instant Articles to ‘all eligible publishers’, following 18 months of testing with over forty publishers worldwide.
This means that publishers can define when a reader sees a paywall in Instant Articles, depending on their own model. Facebook’s announcement implies that a range of subscription models are supported, from metered paywalls offering a specific number of free articles a month, to ‘freemium’ models where some articles are open and others locked.
“We recognise that no two publishers share the same business model,” Facebook said on their blog. “Publishers vary in the audiences they’re trying to reach, the types of journalism they produce, and their areas of expertise. This diversity means that when we build products, we can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach.
“As a result, we’re committed to building a portfolio of both on and off-platform products and programs that publishers can use depending on their specific needs and goals.”
Crucially, the new tools that the platform is making available to publishers includes products to help both reader acquisition and retention, including more in-depth analytics.
One of the tools to support subscriptions is a ‘Welcome Screen’, which encourages new subscribers to follow a publisher’s page to see more of that content in news feed. Initial tests have shown this increases the articles read by subscribers on Facebook by 40%, and also increases the number of new subscribers who follow a publisher’s page from 54% to 94% as they see more of those publisher’s posts in their News Feeds.
Facebook are also allegedly “testing options for enabling subscribers to see more news content on Facebook.”