Over the past few years, Facebook has emerged as the news website of the world due to the sheer volume of users, and most news organizations have been forced to share their stories on the social media website. At the same time, these organizations allege that this practice has led to a loss in revenues. Facebook is now working on a tool that could directly help such organizations with their revenue by driving subscriptions.

A sensible step

Facebook's Instant Articles has been quite popular with news organizations over the years, but one of the biggest concerns among most publishers is that it does not do much for their revenue.

Instant Articles provides an option to post a complete article, and hence a Facebook user might not actually visit the publisher's website. In such a situation, traffic to the publisher's website dwindles, and in addition to that, subscriptions do not grow either since a user does not need to visit the website at all. Facebook's decision to create a tool that will drive subscriptions is a step in the right direction.

The new tool is being developed as part of the Facebook Journalism Project, and two people close to the developments spoke to the New York Times about some of the features of this new tool. The tool will let users read a certain number of articles for a period of time and then direct them to the publisher's website in order to sign up for a subscription.

Launch in October

According to the New York Times report, Facebook plans to launch the feature in October on a trial basis with a handful of publishers, and if it proves to be a success, then it will be made available to all publishers. There is no information at this point on the publishers who will be participating in the trial run.

Facebook's head of news partnerships Campbell Brown released a statement in which he said, “We are in early talks with several news publishers about how we might better support subscription business models on Facebook. As part of the Facebook Journalism Project, we are taking the time to work closely together with our partners and understand their needs.”

News organizations do realize that in the digital age, they need Facebook in order to further boost their readership, but at the same time they cannot make their websites largely redundant and that was what gave rise to the dissatisfaction among plenty of publishers. If this feature succeeds, then it might lead to a long term solution to many of the problems that have been highlighted by publishers over the years.