Meta Explores New Monetization Features for Its Social Apps

Meta Platforms is assessing “possible paid features” for its social apps, including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, according to an internal employee memo. The initiative, under a freshly minted division called New Monetization Experiences, led by Pratiti Raychoudhury, represents Meta’s first coordinated move into paid features across social platforms serving an estimated 3.65 billion monthly users worldwide, per Statista. It comes at a time when Meta is under pressure to increase revenue, which has taken a hit from Apple’s ad-tracking changes and a general softening in digital ad spending.

While Meta’s revenue comes almost entirely from advertising, the company does earn from in-app features. Meta VP of monetization John Hegeman “downplayed paid features becoming a meaningful part of the business in the near term,” couching it “on a five year time horizon,” according to The Verge.

“We do see opportunities to build new types of products, features, and experiences that people would be willing to pay for and be excited to pay for,” said Hegeman, adding “if there are opportunities to both create new value and meaningful revenue lines and also provide some diversification, that’s obviously going to be something that will be appealing.”

Meta currently allows Facebook group administrators to charge for access to exclusive content, as well as virtual “stars” that can be purchased to send creators, affirming their work. Instagram recently began allowing creators to charge subscription fees for access to special content.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently said Meta will allow creators to keep such revenues in their entirety, waiting until 2024 to take a cut. Separately, WhatsApp charges larger companies for the ability to message customers as part of the WhatsApp Cloud API. The new foray is different in that it focuses on paid features that could be monetized across all Meta apps.

“Meta isn’t alone in pushing toward more paid features” as social media apps increasingly look to for-fee features in recent years, The Verge writes, noting “TikTok started testing paid subscriptions for creators earlier this year, Twitter has paid Super Follows, and Discord makes its money entirely from its Nitro subscription.”

This year, Telegram and Snapchat both “added paid tiers that unlock additional features” with Snapchat’s paid tier declared “an early hit,” according to The Verge.

For Meta, the new focus comes as a simmering battle with Apple heats up. MarketWatch points out that having taken a bite out of Meta’s ad business, Apple is now positioning to try to become competitive in the virtual reality space Zuckerberg has staked out, and says the Cupertino company is building a unit to cater to small businesses, another Meta specialty.

Meanwhile, “Meta’s Facebook recently started testing out encrypted chats, a domain that Apple has dominated for years,” MarketWatch says.

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