MM Awards

Facebook introduces subscription system for publishers

Tim Maytom

Facebook is rolling out a new solution for news publishers that will give mobile app users access to a limited number of articles every month, and then provide them with the option to subscribe via the publishers' own websites.

The solution was announced with 10 publishers signed up, including the Washington Post, The Economist, Bild and The Telegraph, but lacked some major names including the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and the New York Times.

According to Reuters, the Wall Street Journal objected to Facebook's one-size-fits-all approach, while the Financial Times wanted a registration process in place so that it could access reader data directly in exchange for providing free articles.

The new solution marks a departure for Facebook, which has previously used platform like Instant Articles as a method of keeping users within its own ecosystem. However, in the wake of the fake news scandal which has plagued the social network, it makes sense that the company would try to restore trust and respectability by partnering with established news organisations.

"We're listening to news publishers all over the world to better understand their needs and goals, and collaborating more closely on the development of new products from the beginning of the process," said Campbell Brown, head of news partnerships at Facebook.

"Over time, we'll continue investing in new ways to enable publishers' subscription businesses - including working with publishers to remove friction from the conversion flow to subscribe, leveraging data to better target content and offers to likely and existing subscribers, and improving our marketing tools to make them better suited for publishers' needs. We're looking forward to working with our partners to help support an important business model for the news industry."

The full list of partners and news titles also includes The Boston Globe, Hearst (The Houston Chronicle and The San Francisco Chronicle), La Repubblica, Le Parisien, Spiegel, and tronc (The Baltimore Sun, The Los Angeles Times, and The San Diego Union-Tribune). The platform will initially only be available on Android, and Facebook plans to test different variations using factors like how many free articles are available before subscribing.

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