- Facebook is researching whether or not users would be receptive to an ad-free, subscription-based version of its site, according to Bloomberg.
- During a hearing before congress in April, Mark Zuckerberg hinted that Facebook might someday offer a version of its site that’s subscription-based, in addition to the current ad-support version.
- Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg also suggested that the company has been thinking about forms of monetisation including subscriptions.
Facebook is reportedly researching whether or not an ad-free, subscription-based version of its site could attract new users.
According to a report by Bloomberg’s Sarah Frier, unnamed sources familiar with the matter said that the company’s interest in creating a subscription-based option has increased in light of privacy concerns stemming from the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Bloomberg’s findings coincide with a comment made by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg during a congressional hearing in April, when he hinted that the platform might someday offer an option users would pay for. When asked if Facebook would always be free, Zuckerberg replied, “Yes, there will always be a version of Facebook that is free.”
Zuckerberg’s comment suggested that in the future, the platform might have alternate versions – some of which might not be free.
But, with recent concerns growing over data use and privacy, Bloomberg’s sources suggest that the company might be considering another source of revenue in addition to its advertising-based business model. As Bloomberg points out, Sheryl Sandberg reiterated this sentiment at Facebook’s first quarter earning call this year, when she said that the company has been thinking about “lots of other forms of monetisation, including subscriptions.”
To be clear, a subscription-based Facebook offering wouldn’t replace the free version of the site. After all, the company’s $US41 billion in ad revenue accounts for 20% of the global advertising market online alone.
Bloomberg’s sources suggest that Facebook’s interest in a subscription-based version is only tentative, and that it might not be an option the company will actually pursue.