Facebook’s news partnership head, Campbell Brown, has said that the social media giant has been listening to the complaints of publishers of news and it is taking action by launching a subscription plan for news. Initial tests on the product are expected to begin in October. This comes a week after news publishers petitioned Congress asking to be exempted from anti-trust rules in order for them to collectively negotiate with internet giants such as Google and Facebook.

The news subscription product is expected to be a feature of Instant Articles – the stories that Facebook aggregates from various publishers based on the preferences and interests of the social network’s users. Besides routing readers to the homepage of a publisher in order to make them subscribe, the Palo Alto, California-based social media giant intends to put up a paywall that would make it a mandatory for readers to subscribe on the platform after consuming 10 articles.

Traffic increase

While Facebook’s Instant Articles has led to an increase in traffic for some publishers, it has been criticized for not making economic sense for most news organizations.

“Instant Articles are highly trafficked and users prefer the format. The problem is the monetization has been inadequate,” a publishing executive told Ad Age.

With Instant Articles, readers get to consume the content of publishers while inside Facebook without having to visit outside websites. Most publishers have complained that the revenue from the ads that the social media giant serves on Instant Articles do not match what they get from their websites. Consequently, some publishers have opted out of the program due to the inadequate monetization opportunities. Some of the publishers who have pulled out of the program include Hearst.

News Media Alliance

But some of the publishers who have quit the program have noticed a decline in traffic. Facebook has previously said that Instant Articles leads to an increase in traffic for publishers in the range of between 20% and 50%.

According to Brown Facebook’s paywall idea has been in the pipeline for a while and will be based on metered and premium plans. Facebook is hoping the move will appease the News Media Alliance which has been complaining lately that internet giants benefit from content that is produced at great cost by publishers without compensating them adequately and fairly. Currently Google and Facebook are in control of close to 50% of all the online advertising spend in the world.