Meta’s latest revenue move is to offer EU, EEA and Swiss users the chance to pay a monthly fee in return for an ad-free Facebook and Instagram.
The decision to offer an add-free experience is a result of European regulation requirements that requires data collectors to offer a way for users to opt-out of data tracking, which provides advertisers with the information required to run personalised campaigns. It just so happens that Meta’s solution is to provide an opt-out that requires a fee.
“The option for people to purchase a subscription for no ads balances the requirements of European regulators while giving users choice and allowing Meta to continue serving all people in the EU, EEA and Switzerland. In its ruling, the Court of Justice of the European Union expressly recognised that a subscription model, like the one we are announcing, is a valid form of consent for an ads funded service.”
Meta also argues that data tracking is how users pay for Insta and Facebook, since the advertising revenue earned off the back of personalised data keeps the lights on. So, the money lost from not collecting data has to be recouped somewhere. Step forward the paid version of Facebook and Instagram comes into play.
One subscription, multiple platforms
If you subscribe to Meta, it will be available across all linked Facebook and Instagram accounts. However, if you want to link additional accounts in your Account Center, that’ll cost an extra €6 per month if you pay via web and €8 if you pay via iOS or Android.
The cost is different depending on where you subscribe to Meta from. If it’s on the web, it’ll work out as €9.99 a month ($10.60 USD) – but subscribe on iOS and Android and that figure gets bumped up to €12.99. Meta says this is due to the fees iOS and Android charge via purchasing policies.
It’s an interesting price point because on average, Meta generates nearly $20 USD per quarter, per EU user – which works out at around $6 USD in ad revenue per user per month. So, the structure seems designed to make up for that loss and add a smidge on top for good measure.
The looming threat of GDPR
As you may have guessed, GDPR plays a massive hand in the move. Now, people using either platform in the EU, EEA or Switzerland will be doing so under the legal basis of consent for the purposes of processing data collected on Meta platforms for the purpose of advertising.
“We made that change to address a number of evolving and emerging regulatory requirements in the region. This includes how our lead data protection regulator in the EU, the Irish Data Protection Commission, is interpreting GDPR following a recent ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and anticipating the entry into force of the Digital Markets Act (DMA).”
The advertising you know and love
There shouldn’t be much impact on advertisers. Meta has assured companies that personalised ad campaigns will continue to be shown in Europe to those who continue to use the free versions of Instagram and Facebook, while Meta will continue to invest in ad features that allow marketers to make the most of Meta’s audience.
The paid-for Meta experience will only be available for users aged 18 and above. For users younger than that, Meta says it will keep looking at how to provide teenagers with useful and responsible ad experiences.