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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Instagram is mulling plans to pay publishers on its platform as it grows as a news and information source for users, sources tell Axios. 

Why it matters: Publishers are frustrated that prior monetization talks have been tabled from the second half of this year to an unknown date. 

Driving the news: Instagram plans to include select publishers in its next test in coming months for paying creators, sources say.

  • The company is still mulling a plan to create a revenue share program with publishers for IGTV ads, but it's moving slower than initially anticipated.
  • In the interim, it's beginning to experiment with opportunities to pay publishers to make content. The app has brokered some select partnerships with publishers in one-off cases where content is paid for.
  • Instagram and Buzzfeed last week announced the launch of a new IGTV social series called “BuzzFeed’s Show Off," that Instagram is helping to fund. 
  • Axios reported ahead of the election that Instagram paid ATTN: to create GOTV videos and content for the app.
  • Other publishers have carve-outs for Instagram written into their contracts with Instagram parent Facebook, sources tell Axios.

Sources say Instagram is being cautious about how it rolls monetization out for publishers, given that it's still trying to figure out how to share revenue with creators writ large.

  • In the past, publishers have complained about being bait and switched by Facebook via rushed deals. Instagram wants to avoid that headache.
  • To date, most creators make money on Instagram by hawking or selling their own products or products from brands, as opposed to doing revenue splits with Instagram or being paid by Instagram to create content. 
  • The company is currently testing ad revenue splits for creators, giving creators a 55% share of ad revenue created from their videos on IGTV.
  • It's also testing the roll-out of badges that creators can sell to fans to have their comments appear higher within Instagram Live.

Be smart: Instagram doesn't have a separate News tab where it would place licensed news content. The closest destination it has would be IGTV, akin to Facebook's Watch Tab, where Facebook does pay select publishers to make content.

  • Instagram debuted an updated layout last week that increases the visibility of and its shopping tab and Reels, its TikTok rival.

The big picture: Instagram has separate teams that work with publishers on rolling out new tools and optimizing content. Those teams for now mostly focus on how publishers can build an audience on Instagram, instead of monetization. 

Go deeper

Dec 1, 2020 - Technology

Facebook, Google push deals despite antitrust scrutiny

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Facebook announced Monday that it has purchased a customer service chatbot startup called Kustomer. The app reportedly cost Facebook $1 billion, the same amount it paid for Instagram in 2012.

Why it matters: The deal is the latest sign that the world's biggest tech companies, despite facing enormous antitrust scrutiny globally, will not stop buying up other companies.
.

21 mins ago - Health

U.S. exceeds 100,000 COVID-related hospitalizations for the first time

People wait outside the Emergency room of the Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park, California on Dec 1. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images

More than 100,200 Americans were hospitalized as of Wednesday due to the coronavirus for the first time since the outbreak began in early 2020, per the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The milestone comes as health officials anticipated cases to surge due to holiday travel and gatherings. The impact of the holiday remains notable, as many states across the country are only reporting partial data.

4 hours ago - Science

The "war on nature"

A resident stands on his roof as the Blue Ridge Fire burned back in October in Chino Hills, Calif. Photo: Jae C. Hong/AP

Apocalyptic weather is the new normal because humans are "waging war on nature," the UN declared on Wednesday.

What they're saying: "The state of the planet is broken," said UN Secretary-General António Guterres, reports AP. “This is suicidal.”