Magazines to Sell Subscriptions Within Facebook's News Feed

Facebook Users Can Stay in News Feed While Buying Print Subs and Reading Whole Articles

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NEW YORK ( -- The magazine business may soon have a way to do more with Facebook than engage fans and promote its brands.

A mockup of an expanded article running in Facebook's news feed, using InStyle as an example.
A mockup of an expanded article running in Facebook's news feed, using InStyle as an example.
Synapse, a Time Inc. division that sells subscriptions for many publishers, is collaborating with Alvenda, a company that builds e-commerce applications, to introduce a system letting Facebook users buy print magazine subscriptions without leaving the site or even the Facebook news feed.

The system, which Alvenda expects to make live in July or August, will also allow Facebook users to expand those blurbs of magazine content that are now common in the news feed into full articles, complete with advertising -- again without leaving the news feed, much less Facebook itself.

If you share a magazine article link with your Facebook friends, for example, their news feeds will allow them to expand the item into a full article with ads and an option to subscribe, said Wade Gerten, CEO at Alvenda, which has developed e-commerce Facebook apps for companies including Hallmark and 1-800-Flowers. "It all happens within Facebook," Mr. Gerten said.

"Consumers don't want to leave where they are on the web, wherever they are," said Alix Hart, VP for online marketing at Synapse. "Facebook is a place where we think that over the coming year there are going to be more and more opportunities to present magazine offers in a really relevant way to consumers, as they're starting to share magazine content in a much deeper way than ever before."

The system from Synapse and Alvenda, which Mr. Gerten said grew out of a suggestion from the Magazine Publishers of America, will make it clear to consumers that clicking on buttons to expand articles or buy subscriptions won't take them away from Facebook.

It's clear why magazines would like to do actual business on Facebook, which had 450 million users as of last month and adds a million new ones every day. Magazines have also been getting better at selling print subscriptions through the internet. And they've tried some interesting new tactics both online and offline. The digital storefront being developed by Next Issue Media, a coalition of five print publishers, will sell print subscriptions along with editions tailored for tablet computers and e-readers.

But not everything works immediately or at all. Time Inc.'s Maghound service, which allows subscribers to swap one title for another midstream, is still not generating significant subscriptions after more than a year and a half, according to magazine industry executives.

Revenue from magazine subscriptions sold on Facebook through the new system will be shared among Synapse, the publishers and Alvenda, Mr. Gerten said. Facebook will not take a cut.

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