EU users who opted for Meta's new ad-free subscription, priced at €9.99 monthly, encountered an unexpected limitation. Not only does this subscription remove ads from their feeds, but it also restricts their ability to run or boost ads for their personal or business accounts.
Understanding the limitations
This policy, as clarified by Meta ads expert Jon Loomer, is explicitly stated in Meta's terms. Subscribing to this ad-free service means giving up several advertising options across Meta's platforms, including:
- Running or boosting ads for an Instagram account.
- Boosting posts for a Facebook profile, such as Marketplace listings.
- Running ads for a Facebook Page linked to an Instagram account with the subscription.
- Participating in partnership ads on Instagram or Facebook.
- Monetising with ads on Reels and In-stream ads.
However, running ads for a Facebook Page you manage is still possible, provided it's not linked to an Instagram account enrolled in the ad-free program.
The rationale behind the restrictions
Meta's decision is rooted in data privacy concerns. These advertising features require personal data usage, which conflicts with the subscription's aim of opting out of data sharing. Essentially, subscribers can enjoy an ad-free experience on Facebook and Instagram but at the expense of their advertising capabilities.
This move aligns with the EU's stringent data permission and usage laws. Meta aims to maintain its business model while offering users a way to avoid personalised ads for a fee.
Meta's strategic positioning
Despite these limitations, Meta expects most users to continue with the standard, ad-supported model. The company likely anticipates higher revenue from ad displays than subscription fees. This strategy also includes clever compliance with new EU regulations, offering a paid opt-out from personalised ads.
Meta acknowledges that some advertising options remain available to subscribers. For instance, boosting posts or running ads for a Facebook Page is still possible if it's not linked to a subscribed Instagram account. Users might find workarounds, like unlinking their Instagram accounts, but this could be inconvenient.
Meta's ad-free subscription, while appealing in its promise of an ad-free experience, comes with significant trade-offs in advertising capabilities. This may deter many from opting in, which is part of Meta's larger strategy to continue its ad-driven business model.