TikTok Testing Out Advert-free Monthly Subscription

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TikTok is testing a new monthly subscription which would get rid of adverts on the video sharing site.

The BBC understands the Chinese firm is trying out the service in an English-speaking market outside the US, but has declined to comment on exactly where.

The subscription is being tested at $4.99 (£4.13).

Meanwhile, Meta is reportedly mulling ad-free subscriptions for people in the EU to navigate the bloc’s advertising rules.

TikTok currently displays personalised adverts for all users over the age of 18.

TechCrunch, the news website, reported that the test is small scale and there is no certainty that a subscription will be rolled-out globally.

YouTube and X, formerly Twitter, are among sites already offering fewer or no ads for a monthly fee.

TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, does not share its financial results publicly, but reportedly earned $85bn (£70bn) in revenue in 2022.

Research firm Insider Intelligence estimates TikTok earned $9.98bn in advertising revenue last year.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, is looking to charge users in Europe who opt out of personalised adverts on its platforms.

Users would be charged roughly €10 (£8.68) a month to use Instagram or Facebook without personalised adverts on desktop, and €13 a month on mobile, Meta has reportedly told EU regulators.

A Meta spokesperson told the BBC: “Meta believes in the value of free services which are supported by personalised ads. However, we continue to explore options to ensure we comply with evolving regulatory requirements. We have nothing further to share at this time.”

The firm said in August, following an EU ruling, that it intended to change its terms and get consent from users to display adverts based on their personal data.

It was fined €390m by the Irish Data Protection Commission in January.

The regulator said Facebook and Instagram could not “force consent” by saying consumers have to accept how their data is used, or leave the platform.

Brooke Erin Duffy, associate professor at Cornell University’s department of communication, said that younger audiences accustomed to using social platforms may be resistant to paying for an advert-free experience.

“From the outset, users have been socialised to think of these platforms as “free” services,” she said. “So it seems unlikely that young users, in particular, will opt for the paid, ad-free model”.

Maddie Hill, a 22-year-old Orkney Islands-based influencer and contributor to The Social, a BBC Scotland digital platform, said she finds adverts on TikTok less intrusive than those on others.

“It’s not necessarily something that bothers me too much when I’m scrolling through my For You page,” she said. “They’re short, you can usually scroll past them so they don’t overly impact the viewing experience.”

Maddie, who has 800,000 followers on TikTok, added: “Whenever I’ve used social media I’ve always been aware of ads and ads are always coming up, so I think there’s an element that like I’m used to it.”

Source: BBC