Twitter is rolling out a micropayment tool on the platform for media publishers next month. It is a move that has been branded "a win win" for both sides by Twitter CEO Elon Musk, but sparked fears this change could seriously undercut news publisher's business models.
Rolling out next month, this platform will allow media publishers to charge users on a per article basis with one click.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 29, 2023
This enables users who would not sign up for a monthly subscription to pay a higher per article price for when they want to read an occasional article.…
Twitter users would pay a one-off fee to access an article they click on via the social media platform, rather than commit to a more costly rolling subscription.
CEO of Axate Dominic Young understands the logic behind this move, as his pay-per-article platform shares the idea of enabling readers to pay for precisely what they want. Twitter must do more to make sure this translates into a sustainable business model for publishers, he says.
"Most customers, even if they're willing to pay, do not want to make multiple different subscription commitments. So I don’t disagree with Elon Musk about that," says Young.
"But if I were a publisher, I would want to have a payment mechanic that was not restricted to one particular platform, or one particular subset of users. I’d really quite like it if my users were able to pay regardless of route."
It has been a period of constant chopping and changing since Musk took over Twitter, from overhauls of Blue Ticks to shutting down its newsletter integration Revue. It can be hard for publishers to have confidence in the platform, when news features could be axed or altered the next minute.
Young says that uptake of Twitter's micropayment mechanics could be limited as a result. Publishers are also wary of becoming dependent on a feature they have no control over, a lesson learned from Facebook changing its approach to news on the platform.
"As a publisher, I'd want to be in control of my destiny, my relationship with my customers, my pricing," Young says.
Twitter's cut of micropayment revenue has not yet been confirmed. But the move follows Twitter's "creator subscriptions" exclusively available for paid users, which allows content creators to retain all earned revenue for the first 12 months, followed by a 10 per cent share for the platform afterwards.
Twitter has not responded for comment.
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