5 common questions news publishers ask about subscriptions in Facebook Instant Articles


The Local News Resource Center, funded by the Facebook Journalism Project, recently hosted a webinar for members of Local Media Association and Local Media Consortium to learn more about subscriptions in Facebook Instant Articles.

In June, Facebook expanded support for subscriptions in Instant Articles to all eligible publishers. The tool allows publishers to define when a reader sees a paywall in Instant Articles, whether based on a metered model tied to a specific number of free articles per month or a “freemium” model that leaves certain articles open and others locked.

“Audiences enjoy Instant Articles’ speedy platform, and we have realized monetization gains by using it with this new paywall,” Mark Campbell, chief marketing officer at Tribune Publishing, told Facebook for its report.

Whether already using Instant Articles or simply interested in more information, publishers say they observe that subscriptions in Facebook Instant Articles can be used to improve user experience and facilitate subscriber acquisition.

These are some common questions from publishers addressed with the information provided in the webinar as well as developer documentation.

Can Instant Article views and mobile web views both count toward a metered paywall?

The Facebook meter is separate from the owned/operated site meter, and the publisher controls where the meter is set.

How does the platform know when a user cancels and is no longer a subscriber?

In lay terms, the publisher sends a cancel subscription call, letting Facebook know that the user should not have access anymore. Then, on the next access, Facebook blocks the user from seeing the content, and shows the paywall. Dive deeper into the developer documentation.

Can we publish our own 3rd party ads into Instant Articles using an ad server?

Publishers can use an ad server to load in direct-sold ads, but they cannot backfill via ad server to a third party ad platform. Publishers can backfill, however, using Facebook Audience Network advertising. Learn more about monetization in Instant Articles.

Can publishers select only specific stories to show up as Instant Articles?

The Instant Article HTML markup can be applied automatically, to enable automated publication of an entire content feed at scale. Alternatively, it can be applied manually to create bespoke stories that take full advantage of Instant Article capabilities and rich-media elements. Find more information on getting started.

So, just to clarify, Facebook doesn’t take any percentage of subscription rate?

Subscriptions in Instant Articles is free. Transactions take place on publisher’s website, which allows publishers to directly manage the relationship with subscribers.

This article was produced by the Local News Resource Center, which is funded by the Facebook Journalism Project and serves members of both Local Media Association and Local Media Consortium. Connect with us to ask questions, provide feedback, and find solutions at the intersection of local news and social media.