On October 30 2023 Meta announced a new paid Facebook and Instagram subscription option for users in the European Union, the EEA, and Switzerland.
The social media giant will soon offer users this service as a way to opt-out of ads on Facebook and Instagram, so that Meta can be in compliance with recent EU regulations. It will also still be offering its current service and platforms for free, supported by ads.
In their announcement, Meta says that: “We believe in a free, ad-supported internet – and will continue to offer people free access to our personalized products and services regardless of income.” They also assure users that whether or not they choose to pay and opt-out of ads, they are “committed to keeping people’s information private and secure, under our own policies.”
This new subscription option comes as a response to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – one of the strictest, if not the strictest, data privacy and security laws globally. This cornerstone piece of legislation imposes obligations of all businesses operating in the EU or targeting and collecting data of EU citizens, regardless of where the organization itself is located.
This legislation came into effect in May of 2018, and levy’s harsh fines on organizations found to be in violation of its statutes – with penalties reaching tens of millions of euros.
In order to offer an ad free version of their social platforms to customers, and to be in line with the EUs rules, Meta is going to offer european users a subscription service starting in November 2023.
Users can expect to pay €9.99 ($10.50) a month when they sign up on their desktop computer, with users being charged €12.99 in order to use their subscription on mobile. Meta says that the higher cost for mobile users is due to commissions charged by Apple and Google’s app stores.
This fee will cover the use of all linked Meta accounts through till March 2024, meaning that users can pay a single fee for ad-free use of both their Facebook and Instagram accounts for a limited time. After March, the company will be charging an additional €6 for each account added – for a total of €12.99 for desktop use of both Facebook and Instagram.
How an ad free Facebook option impact advertisers?
Meta’s new subscription option has major implications for paid social ads and native social media marketing. Namely, users in the EU with a paid account will not see ads and marketers will need to adapt in order to best reach these audiences.
Advertisers will need to plan their journeys accordingly, aware that certain demographics will be less likely to see their ads. This will be particularly true for european demographics that have higher means, and are more likely to be able to opt out of ads, or demographics that are more prone to ad fatigue and may, as a result, choose to set aside the funds to subscribe.
Like with all journey advertising, knowing your target persona is essential; what this new subscription option from Meta does, is add another layer for marketers to understand and be aware of when building out their strategies.