Facebook has found itself between a rock and a hard place when it comes to content shared on its network. Facebook wants to keep users on their platform, but content producers want a better way to generate revenue. Facebook Instant Articles was an idea that was launched to encourage users to remain on their platform, but to still get the news and information that they are looking for. The biggest problem that publishers have seen is that, while Instant Articles generate views, they do not generate revenue.
To help publishers battle this issue, Instant Articles will be adding a new feature - a paywall. The new feature will allow publishers to lock some or all of their content behind a paywall, that will prevent readers from accessing content without first paying for it. The new service will be run as a subscription service, but unlike most paid features on the Facebook system, Facebook will not be directly involved in the process. Instead, all payment will be processed by the publisher and Facebook will take zero percent of the revenue. It will, however, require Instant Articles for the feature to work.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg, on his own Facebook page, wrote,
If people subscribe after seeing news stories on Facebook, the money will go directly publishers who work hard to uncover the truth, and Facebook won't take a cut. We plan to start with a small group of U.S. and European publishers later this year and we'll listen to their feedback.
Another addition to promote the publishers, the network will begin to place publisher logos next to content. This will take place for articles shared to the network, or anywhere Instant Articles are shown, including in the forward-facing Trending topics area. Zuckerberg said,
Eventually our goal is to put a publisher's logo next to every news article on Facebook so everyone can understand more about what they're reading.
It will be great to begin to see publisher logos next to their content, to make it clear where you are about to go. This, when combined with last week's revelation about demoting deceptive content, you will always know where you are heading when you click a link within the social network.