Facebook’s integration of a subscription model to Instant Articles probably won’t sway free publications to start charging, but subscription-based publications like The New York Times could start loading faster inside Facebook.
Facebook’s Instant Articles designed to load faster than simply linking to a web page may soon be getting their own paywalls. In an update on the platform’s Journalism Project on Thursday, July 20, Facebook shared that Instant Article subscription support is currently under development.
Many major newspapers, including the New York Times, allow readers a set number of articles per month free, but charge subscription rates for full access. The upcoming update will give publishers the option to essentially do the same thing with Instant Articles on Facebook. Publications that choose to use a subscription model will take readers to a subscription page when clicking on an Instant Article. The feature is also expected to include a page limit, for example, allowing readers to view ten free articles per month but then taking browsers to the subscription page once that limit is reached.
When the feature launches later this year, the change will likely mean that companies already using paywalls will be more likely to use Instant Articles. For readers, that means subscribers might see faster load times and a better viewing experience as more paid publications adopt to Instant Articles.
The new feature reportedly comes as a result of several publications requesting it. Paywalls are common for larger publications on a general web browser, but the update would migrate the feature over to Instant Articles.
Instant Articles is an option for news outlets to publish articles directly on Facebook, based on the idea that the faster load times will encourage more views. Facebook says that over 10,000 publishers use the feature, a number that’s grown by 25 percent in just six months.
The announcement for the upcoming paywall feature comes just as Facebook is introducing a way for publishers to better monitor their Instant Articles. On July 19, Facebook launched Instant Articles Analytics, a platform for publishers to see how the Instant Articles are performing, including comparing the integrated articles to basic web links.
The updates come as the platform marks six months into the Facebook Journalism Project, which aims to create more meaningful conversations by developing more journalism-focused features. Facebook says it will continue exploring ways to further enhance journalism on Facebook, including more effort to stop the spread of fake news, an ongoing project for the social media platform. Additional steps will also include features geared towards local news outlets.
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