Facebook is working with The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Economist and other publishers to test ways to have its users subscribe to articles.
People will be able to read 10 articles for free via the social network’s Instant Articles feature before being prompted to subscribe for full access as part of the experiment, Facebook executives said in a blog post Thursday.
When someone subscribes, the transaction will take place on the publisher’s website, and the publisher will keep all of the revenue as well as own subscribers’ data.
Facebook has been eating publishers’ lunch, taking ad dollars that historically went to traditional media owners. Google and Facebook topped a list of the world’s largest media owners in May, together earning more than $100 billion in advertising dollars in 2016, according to media agency Zenith.
In July, U.S. publishers’ group the News Media Alliance went to Congress to allow it to collectively regain market share from Facebook and Google. Antitrust laws usually prevent companies from forming such an alliance because of the risk of over-dominance, but the group sought an exemption.
For its part, the social media giant set up the Facebook Journalism Project in January to develop news projects, as well as look at how publishers can make money from the site.
“Earlier this year, many publishers identified subscriptions as a top priority, so we worked with a diverse group of partners to design, refine, and develop a test suited for a variety of premium news models,” Facebook’s Campbell Brown, head of news partnerships, Alex Hardiman, head of news product, and Sameera Salari, product manager, wrote in the blog post.
But some notable premium publishers, including The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times, will not take part in the subscription experiment because Facebook will not give them access to readers’ data until they subscribe, a Reuters report said.