Have News Publishers Become Dangerously Dependent on Facebook?

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In an interesting post on The Monday Note the author Frederic Filloux outlined the tough spot news publishers have found themselves in when it comes to distributing their content on Facebook.

On the one hand, content producers need all the article distribution and eyeballs they can get, and Facebook provides them, en masse. According to Filloux, “Today, Facebook drives about 40% of all referrals and Google drives about 35%.” That’s an insane amount of referral traffic, and much the reason why newspapers and magazines started using Facebook’s “Instant Articles” platform to publish content directly to users. That, and the fact that Instant Articles purported to provide the reader with a better, faster article loading experience to aid in ease of reading. Ideally, this would provide a huge amount of traffic to the articles, and eventually provide ad revenue either via the publisher’s site direct or through Facebook Ads itself.

Alas, it seems things may not be working out as planned on the publisher side, as Facebook recently changed their News Feed algorithm to display news from friends and family first, while lowering the priority of Instant Articles. Essentially, publishers can post articles all day long, but Facebook ultimately controls how many people, and exactly who, the content will be display to.

How publishers will react to this remains to be seen. Have they become so dependent on the Facebook traffic that they will pay the increasingly high ad prices to maintain and grow the audience they’ve been working to engage? Facebook hopes so. Will they pull back on Instant Articles and refocus on different distribution methods? A definite possibility.

If you’ve thought about publishing via Instant Articles, we’d highly recommend you read Filloux’s piece on the tenuous relationship between Facebook & content providers – it is very insightful. Find his full post here: https://mondaynote.com/news-publishers-facebook-problem-6752f1c35037#.bjqhs54ze

Post by Jess Greiner

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