Twitter bulks up subscription strategy with US launch and ad-free news

10 Nov 2021

Image: © itchaznong/Stock.adobe.com

The social platform is trying to reduce its reliance on ad revenue and attract paying subscribers with ad-free news and undo tweets features.

Twitter is continuing the roll-out its new subscription product, launching more features and bringing the service to additional markets.

Twitter Blue was revealed in June of this year and first launched in Canada and Australia. Now the company is also making the subscription service available in the US and New Zealand, on iOS, Android and web.

It gives paying subscribers access to additional Twitter features for a monthly fee, including the ability to undo tweets, bookmark and save tweets, and customise their display.

The company has previously stressed that its core social media platform will remain free.

“This subscription offering is simply meant to add enhanced and complementary features to the already existing Twitter experience for those who want it,” it said at the June launch.

Now for a monthly fee of US$2.99 or NZ$4.49, users in the US and New Zealand will have access to these enhanced features.

One of the new selling points of Twitter Blue announced this week is access to ad-free articles. This comes on the back of Twitter’s acquisition of Scroll earlier this year, a start-up that partnered with news sites to offer ad-free content to subscribers.

Now, Twitter Blue subscribers on iOS and desktop will be able to see ad-free, fast-loading content when they visit a number of US news sites from Twitter. Subscribers will also be able to view the most-shared articles in their network over the past day.

A portion of the revenue from Twitter Blue subscription fees then goes to publishers. The company said it will add more partnerships in more markets in the future, but publishers it is working with now include The Washington Post, LA Times, The Atlantic, Reuters and Rolling Stone.

Customising Twitter is another big element of the subscription service, with exclusive app icons, themes and bookmark folders for subscribers. These users will also be able to customise their navigation bar in the app.

While an edit tweet function is still not on the cards, Twitter Blue subscribers will have access to an Undo Tweet feature. Here, they can preview and check tweets before they’re sent.

Subscribers also get early access to features Twitter is testing, and the company hinted that there is more to come.

Twitter Blue is being seen as an attempt by the company to diversify its revenue streams and dial back reliance on advertising. In its most recent quarter, ad revenue was up by more than 41pc to $1.14bn, representing 89pc of total revenue.

“This website is free,” is a common joke made on Twitter. But for some users, it may not be any more.

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Sarah Harford is sub-editor of Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com