Facebook Tests Link Between User Accounts And News Subscriptions: Just The Facts

September 16, 2020 Sarah Cavill

Facebook continues to try new ways to integrate news into the Facebook platform, creating better experiences for users and publishers. Recently, Facebook started testing a new account linking tool that links users Facebook accounts with their news subscriptions, removing content consumption hurdles.

How Will The New Facebook Feature That Links User Accounts With News Subscriptions Work?

Anthony Ha at TechCrunch explains, “The idea is that when Facebook identifies a subscriber from one of its publisher partners, that subscriber will be invited to link their news account to their Facebook account. Once they’re linked, if they encounter a paywalled article on Facebook, they’ll be able to read it without hitting the paywall or having to log in again.” Facebook users with linked accounts will also see more content from publishers they subscribe to, and Facebook says there may be more benefits to users with linked accounts rolled out in the future. 

Why Is Facebook Testing A New Feature That Links User Accounts With News Subscriptions?

There are a number of reasons Facebook is testing a feature that links user accounts with news subscriptions, including its ongoing efforts to create better relationships with newsmakers. The role of Facebook as middleman in previous agreements often left publishers in the dark, unclear who their readers were, frustrated by changing algorithms and with limited data available to continue nurturing reader relationships and generate revenue. This latest feature rollout from Facebook could be more appealing to publishers because it requires that readers are already subscribed to a partner publication, instead of subscribing through Facebook. 

Shutterstock_772838107 Kazan, Russian Federation - Sep 15, 2017: Home page of social network site Facebook,Facebook notifications of friend request, Facebook is a social networking service, owned and operated by Facebook

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Athletic and the Winnipeg Free Press are already signed on as part of the early testing for the new Facebook feature that lets subscribers of those publications link their subscriptions to their Facebook accounts to avoid paywalls within Facebook. According to Facebook, “In June, subscribers in our test group who had linked their subscription accounts on Facebook had on average 111% more article clicks compared to subscribers who were not part of the test group. Account linking has also driven more subscribers to follow their subscription publishers on Facebook: through June, publishers' Facebook followers jumped from 34% to more than 97% among subscribers who had linked their accounts.”

In addition, because the new feature provides for a seamless reading experience, it keeps readers on Facebook for their news instead of clicking away to the news website. This new feature also could garner some goodwill for Facebook after a year of claims they aren’t vigilant enough with fact checking.  

How Do Digital Marketers Benefit From Facebook Linking News Subscriptions With User Accounts?

Facebook hasn’t explicitly said how the latest news tool will directly benefit advertisers and digital marketers. However,  if the linking tool is successful, more publishers will partner with Facebook, bringing new audiences to the platform clicking on articles and seeing ads within those publications. This uptick in activity and engagement will increase ad impression volumes.

Also, the new account linking tool should give publishers and news outlets a better understanding of who their readers are, what they want and where they’re clicking, allowing for better subscriber retention and targeting for future subscribers.

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Senior Marketing Communications Writer, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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