On January 11, Facebook has declared that it will bring alterations in the News Feed algorithm in order to focus on the posts of family and friends over the public content. Now, it’s time to say goodbye to the unwanted sponsored posts that mostly came from CNN, Tasty, and some other brands which accepted this platform. But the good thing is that now it is time to say hi to the personal posts that consist of shares and comments from friends. Does it sound like the original version of the Facebook?
News Feed of Facebook changes in order to make a good user experience by emphasizing on the meaningful interactions among different people. It is crucial for the business because the tech giant finds to move back in order to the main objective of just not connecting the people, but also connecting those people purposefully. In the year which was overflowing with the interference of Russia, concerns about content policing, and public trust problems, now Facebook is assuring people through reconstructing the brand and then delivering a great experience.
It leaves the professionals related to media which have influenced the Facebook for the content distribution as well as monetization in the pickle. The publishers are extremely worried. Should the publishers be?
Publishing Stuff in the Era of Social Media
The user base of Facebook is intimidating. Monthly active Facebook users are around 2B across the world. Hence, Facebook is an important tool for the publishers who are focusing to increase the audience. Social media is a giant. Through it, the publishers find an easily accessible platform with the huge traffic through which to divide the content. So, Facebook has made it quite easy by having publisher relationships in order to make the Facebook a great destination than just sharing pictures of babies and posts.
For the Facebook, this plan has just changed this platform and turned it into an amazing destination where its users slowly scroll. According to Mark Zuckerberg, the time consumed on Facebook is losing luster. Though, its Active Users are increasing daily with the growth rate of 4.5 percent over the previous 2 years. “I hope time that people consume on this platform would decrease. On the other hand, I hope that the time users consume on the platform would be more precious.” Active usage of Facebook, where the behavior of a user behavior is quite social, is very precious to the platform. Its survival just relies on the active user base. The new equation has made more time-based metric. According to Zuckerberg, “the time consumed isn’t a target by itself; what we want is the time well consumed”.
This Zuckerberg’s quote is quite familiar to the discussion made at YouTube in the year 2012 to an emphasis on the watch time than views. But, YouTube was focused on increasing its viewership. The publisher monetization of video platform was particularly tied to the number of views. Thus, more views are equal to more ads. And more ads are equal to more money. but, YouTube has perceived that the negative views weren’t nice for this platform and thus were making some new king of the publisher whose main objective was just to make a view. Time consumed busy with good quality content will be far more precious. Few publishers will lose their money and some will be out of the business in the short term. Titles and thumbnails which promoted views and clicks will go away. With the passage of time, the positive content which kept the people busy meaningfully will win.
Short-Run Effect on the Publishers
Passive scrolling by the sponsored content was just a boon for the publishers. Facebook has enabled many eyes to search their relevant content and there is a big competition for the attention of users. The publishers started relying on the social media including Facebook for the enhanced traffic that worked when the public content was quite easily searchable. However, the publishers might not go further with same monetization strategy and content distribution.
We have already seen that how Facebook might affect a business for the publisher.
For instance, Zynga is a mobile gaming company that is behind FarmVille maniac (you also have been a fan of those crops). Zynga released the games just like Facebook apps and depending on the popularity of the company on social media (till 2009, more than 20 percent of users of Facebook were the fans of FarmVille). In 2011, Zynga went public. But, its dependence on the Facebook consequently hurt it a lot. Then Facebook followed such policies which damaged making money and way of reaching players of Zynga. Thus, Zynga was just left with a choice that is to leave Facebook and to just focus on the standalone destination. Then it shifted to the O&O as well as mobile strategy and its results were damaging:
Zynga Stock Price, 2012-2018 (NASDAQ: ZNGA)
Make Investment in O&O and Drive Monetization
In order to win, the publishers would look to finish the dependence on the Facebook for generating the audience. And other publishers which have already taken an advantage of the clickbait titles and images might fail to get success in this change. Publishers who are creating positive content would pull through.
It would taper with the passage of time. But the users would find some solution to search and consume content of the publisher, even without Facebook. The audiences always need content from favorite brands and outlets that are trustable. The successful publishers may give this solution through focusing on the monetization and content distribution.
The publishers would be busy with their own properties and hope they’re trying to create a great user experience. Now, consider Highline property of the HuffPost that is dedicated to featuring the provocative content. Highline has flawless site designs.
For the content monetization, the publishers should also discover advertising strategies. They should move beyond the ‘boring ads’ and by tapping into shifting the preferences of the audience for high quality and positive content, the publishers would definitely look for advertising solutions which engage the users. There is no surprise in it that trend of active engagement affecting News Feed of Facebook equally applies to the advertising content.
The publishers have recognized that there is need to distinguish themselves from just being someplace for the eyeballs. Its example is USA Today’s Get Studios. The publishers invested in the branded content. Along with effect of the programmatic platforms and landscape questioning viewability, many publishers are now offering huge takeovers.
We’ve already seen many publishers just like The New York Times. They invest in the new technologies, for instance, Virtual Reality. I’ve seen the ability of these publishers to offer rare content, distribution, and formats that have just opened new streams of revenue. These publishers are interested in emerging forms of the content that would win the audiences and many ad dollars would be shifting from the Facebook.