Would you consider paying a monthly fee to use Facebook, let's say 10 bucks or so, if it meant that you would never have to see an ad again?
People love Facebook. They really love it. My mother-in-law looks hypnotized when she decides to put in some Facebook time. In general, the ads on Facebook don’t seem particularly useful or engaging. However, ads on the service are universally tolerated because that’s what makes Facebook free and free is nice.
Anywhoo, now that I’m using it and thinking about it, I’ve got an idea for Facebook. They could offer Facebook Premium. For $10 a month, people who really love Facebook (and can afford it), could see no ads. Maybe some special features too. If 10% percent of Facebook signed up, that’s $1B a month in revenue. Not too shabby.
Suggesting that 10% of all of Facebook's monthly active users would sign up to pay for the ad-free service may be a bit generous - that would be about 100 million users. But Stone does have a point in that ads are simply tolerated because there is no other option - that's the way it's always been on Facebook.
Is there a subset of users who would pay to remove all ads? Probably. Is it very large? I don't know. It's not like other companies haven't had success with this sort of model (just look at Spotify or Pandora).
But even if Facebook users would buy into the idea (and that's a big if), would Facebook even consider it?
Earlier this year, a patent filed by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and a Facebook ads product director suggests that they've at least considered the idea. The patent talks about a "paid profile" that would allow users to customize what shows up on their profiles, and more importantly, get rids of ads. But that's just a patent filing and it definitely doesn't suggest intent.
Facebook still proudly states on its homepage that it is free and always will be. And they're not lying. Despite what some stupid hoax may have told you, Facebook is never going to charge users to access the core Facebook experience. But offering a paid premium service? At least one prominent tech figure thinks it would be a great idea for the nearly 10-year-old company.