Meta is having a mid-life crisis. In the last couple months, it’s attempted to make Instagram look like TikTok, which no one — including Kylie Jenner and Chrissy Teigen — was a fan of, so it rolled back those changes. More recently, it confirmed it’s copying trending app BeReal and making its own version.
The latest? It’s apparently looking at charging for some of its Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp features.
A leaked internal memo detailing these changes was obtained by The Verge the week of August 22. In it, the company told employees that it would be setting up a product organisation to identify build “possible paid features” for its main social apps.
Called New Monetisation Experiences and led by Pratiti Raychoudhury, who was previously Meta’s head of research, the group is the company’s first serious attempt at building paid features across its apps. Its setup is in response to Meta’s ads business predicted to be taking a USD$10 billion blow due to Apple’s ad tracking changes on iOS, not to mention a broader pullback in digital ad spend.
While you can see Meta’s financial struggle, is now really the time to look into app charging? When many long-term users are hopping onto other apps and Meta itself seems to be experimenting left-right-and-centre with new app features, should now be the time to start charging?
“I think 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,” Meta’s VP of monetization overseeing the group, John Hegeman told The Verge. He declined to elaborate on paid features that are being considered.
Longer term, Meta sees paid features becoming a more meaningful part of its business, Hegeman told the publication. “On a five-year time horizon, I do think it can really move the needle and make a pretty significant difference.”
It’s worth noting that Meta isn’t the only app dabbling in paid features. Snapchat, TikTok and Twitter all currently have paid offerings.
“We’re obviously paying attention to what’s going on in the industry,” Hegeman said. “And I think there are multiple companies that have done interesting things in this space that I think hopefully we can learn from and emulate over time.”