By Adam Fraser
Facebook and Publishers. Happily married? Or just staying together for the kids?
The journey has been an interesting one. Lured by the gateway drug of (free) organic reach to access consumers with their content, (which was subsequently choked via various algorithm tweaks), many publishers jumped fully into bed with Facebook via Instant Articles – publishing directly on Facebook rather than their own platforms. The temptation of the massive audience Facebook can offer (over 1.7bn monthly active users), with a revenue share, proved too great for many. Owned land was abandoned. Rented land was seized.
Alas the honeymoon is well and truly over in this somewhat forced marriage between Facebook and traditional publishers. Further algorithm changes have again hit publisher reach on Facebook, and the shared ad revenue has not been as significant as hoped. With Facebook and Google now utterly dominating the online advertising sector, it’s increasingly clear where the power lies.
An interesting opinion piece in the Guardian “Why Facebook is Public Enemy Number One for Newspapers and Journalists” took this issue further by questioning whether the entire future of journalism was at risk from Facebook’s dominance.
It is a thought provoking article, well worth a read. One extract in particular drives home the point:
“Facebook’s increasing dominance over advertising is causing the laying off of journalists, the people who produce the news that it transmits to its users. The logical conclusion to that process is not only the destruction of old media, legacy media, mainstream media, whatever you want to call it, but the end of journalism as we know it.”
Heavy stuff. The implications are broader for society as a whole as competition lessens in the news media space, with millennials increasingly getting their news via Facebook (algorithmically determined by Facebook).
Media control (and any perceived media bias in news reporting) is not a new phenomenon. Facebook has truly disrupted many aspects of the media sector with many positive impacts. The market has talked. The unintended consequences of the fall out from this for news consumption and independent journalism are still to play out in full.