We care about supporting quality journalism on Facebook, and we know many publishers are supported by subscription or other consumer-funded revenue business models. Last November, we announced we were developing a paywall for subscriptions publishers to use in Instant Articles with the goal of improving subscriber acquisition from Facebook. We have seen consistent, positive performance of the paywall since our earliest results were announced in June, and today we’re announcing several updates to our subscription tools, and the addition of 28 publishers to the test.
To make our subscriptions tools more accessible to a wide range of publishers, we redesigned the implementation approach to cut the development time by 75%, from 4-8 weeks to 1-2 weeks. We are also integrating the Instant Articles paywall with third party paywall providers to make it easier for publishers to implement a paywall with Instant Articles on Facebook. For instance, we recently partnered with Piano – a leading paywall provider globally – to give publishers an even simpler way to integrate their paywall with Instant Articles.
Publishers joining the Instant Articles subscriptions test include:
- From APAC & India: Business Standard and Malaysiakini
- From EMEA: Libération, Haaretz, Expresso, Informacion.es, Il Fatto Quotidiano, Il Messaggero
- From LATAM: El Espectador, Estadão, La Nación (Argentina), La Nación (Costa Rica), Nexo Jornal, La Prensa
- From the US: Advance’s Syracuse.com; Business Insider; Gatehouse’s Cape Cod Times, Columbus Dispatch, The Florida Times-Union, and Times Herald-Record; McClatchy’s Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Kansas City Star, and Wichita Eagle; Newsday; Tribune’s Chicago Tribune, Fort-Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, Hartford Courant, and Orlando Sentinel
For publishers who want to build a deeper relationship with readers that have not subscribed yet, we are also testing the ability for a publisher to allow a reader to continue reading if they share their email address (commonly referred to as a publisher registration wall).
Increasing focus on retention
In addition to converting new subscribers, we know it is also important to help publishers better retain their current subscribers. We believe we can help do this by showing current subscribers more of the content they pay for, and offering publishers a direct way to reach their subscribers on Facebook. These retention-focused efforts are available for all subscription-based publishers, not just those in the Instant Articles paywall test.
We launched a “Welcome Screen” to encourage new subscribers if they would like to follow the publisher’s Page and see more of that publishers’ content in News Feed after learning that nearly half of all subscribers did not follow the publishers’ Page on Facebook. The welcome screen has increased the percentage of new subscribers who follow the publisher’s page from 54 to 94%. This has also increased the articles read by subscribers on Facebook by 40%.
In addition to increasing the frequency with which subscribers see the content they pay for, we also want to ensure that publishers have the tools to reach their subscribers more directly and communicate the value of being a subscriber. Therefore, we are testing the ability for publishers to create posts that are targeted to subscribers.
We are also working with publishers to make Facebook Analytics more useful for subscriptions based publishers seeking to better understand and develop their audience on Facebook.
Testing memberships support tool
We also want to support publishers that rely on memberships models. We will be testing a product that enables readers to support these types of news publishers by providing payment directly to them on Facebook. We will start with a small set of local news and other memberships-based news publishers in December.
We look forward to continuing to support publishers creating quality journalism through these initiatives moving forward.