Facebook Aims to Deliver Real News to Mobile News Feeds

October 30, 2014

Facebook appears poised to deepen its footprint in the mobile publishing world, whether the industry is prepared for it or not. In a sense, Facebook wants to become a content syndicator — allowing publishers to post directly to its mobile app News Feeds in return for a share of ad revenue. It could be beneficial to consumers, assuming they enjoy the scenery in Facebook’s walled garden.

Facebook has been meeting with publishers to discuss better ways of collaborating, according to an article published this week in The New York Times.

Facebook apparently wants to implement a more seamless way for mobile users to access news and magazine articles, as well as other content developed for digital sites, directly from their News Feed.

Facebook is considering inviting publishers to post their content inside its mobile app, where it would be hosted by Facebook’s servers, the Timesreported.

In exchange, Facebook would share ad revenue with the publishers.

Audience Network Success Stories

Facebook clearly has placed all bets on its mobile ecosystem and has been positioning it to be as welcoming as possible to third-party developers and publishers.

Earlier this month, for example, it expanded access to its mobile monetization tool, Audience Network, so that outside players could leverage Facebook’s 1.5 million advertisers and millions of users that sign in to apps using their Facebook credentials.

Early stats from some users of the Audience Network suggest it could be a profitable play for them, at least in the short run.

Glu, the maker of “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood,” has said that Facebook’s Audience Network has delivered CPMs, or, cost per 1,000 impressions, that are twice the return of other ad networks. Shazam, a music recognition and sharing app, said that the Audience Network increased its revenue from ad networks by 37 percent.

Brand Exposure or Brand Dilution?

It follows then that publishing directly on Facebook, presumably taking advantage of the site’s advertising algorithms, formidable knowledge base of users, and impressive mobile IT infrastructure would be a win-win. That assessment is bolstered by the pitch Facebook apparently is making to publishers — namely, that mobile news sources are not providing a favorable user experience for their readers.

That’s not necessarily so, according to Nick Eubanks, vp of digital strategy for TrafficSafetyStore.com.

“I believe the move for Facebook to support ad revenue via hosted publishing will be bad for publications in the long run,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

“I think it will eat into publications’ overall revenue and dilute brand affinity and mindshare,” Eubanks added, “as the publishing platform tends to get the most conscious credit for content.”

Over time, it will pull audiences away from publishers as destinations, he predicted, while propping up Facebook as a more trusted source.

Virality vs. Quality

Some news publishers would benefit and probably not be too concerned about losing their hard news creds, though, said Dave Yoo, COO of 3Q Digital.

“Publishers that focus on virality over quality of content could have an advantage here,” he told the E-Commerce Times. “Additionally, those that post more on a blog roll frequency could benefit.”

By publishing on Facebook, the site would give up control over curation of its content, Yoo acknowledged.

On the other hand, many news destinations these days are an aggregation of in-house reporting and syndicated news from sources such as The AP, he pointed out.

“What Facebook seems to be doing here is attempting to create another layer of syndication across all publisher content out there.”

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