Facebook Revealed Several Updates to Its Test of Subscriptions to Instant Articles

Facebook announced several updates to its test of subscriptions to Instant Articles, as well as 26 new publishers that were added to the test group.

The social network began testing subscriptions in Instant Articles with 10 publishers in October 2017.

The implementation approach for the initiative was revamped, slashing development time to onboard publishers by 75 percent, to one to two weeks from four to eight weeks previously. A Facebook spokesperson said this move makes subscriptions to Instant Articles available to a wider range of publishers, as those with fewer developer resources can more easily participate.

On that note, Facebook is also integrating its Instant Articles paywall with third-party paywall providers, including Piano, to ease the implementation process for publishers.

A welcome screen was also added to encourage new subscribers to follow publishers’ pages and see more of their content in News Feed.

Product manager Sameera Salari said in a blog post that the social network added the welcome screen after discovering that nearly one-half of subscribers did not follow the pages of publishers they were subscribing to, adding that the welcome screen has hiked the percentage of new subscribers who follow the publisher’s page to 94 percent from 54 percent and boosted articles read on Facebook by those subscribers by 40 percent.

Salari also revealed that Facebook is testing the ability for publishers to create posts that are targeted to their subscribers, as well as working with publishers to help them get more relevant information out of the social network’s analytics.

She added, “We also want to support publishers that rely on membership 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.”

The new publishers that were added to the test group are:

  • U.S.: 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; and Tribune’s Chicago Tribune, Fort-Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, Hartford Courant and Orlando Sentinel.
  • Latin America: El Espectador, Estadão, La Nación (Argentina), La Nación (Costa Rica), Nexo Jornal and La Prensa.
  • Europe, the Middle East and Africa: Il Fatto Quotidiano, Haaretz, Libération and Expresso (Portugal).
  • Asia-Pacific and India: Business Standard and Malaysiakini.

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