News Publishers’ Facebook Problem
Frederic Filloux
14313

A very good read @filloux.

I have been over this topic several times. Relying on a third party for your distribution is suicide.

The issue is so serious that the first ever blog post I created for my company blog was about digital sharecropping- or Facebook and other platforms feeding off your content and letting you starve.

Any platform (including Medium we are discussing this topic on), will act as gatekeeper. That’s the easiest way for a platform to generate revenue. Give something away for free, build a big enough user base, and then monetize by offering paid distribution.

What happens when they have to increase revenue? They slow down organic distribution and make businesses pay for it. As months go by and you need to show increase in revenue to your investors, guess what gets axed?

Free distribution!

Facebook realizes that brands promoting content for free is interfering with their paid distribution. Even with paid distribution, you can only push so much content. If most of your feed is full of ads, would you use Facebook?

No!

So Facebook has to strike a balance between ads and engaging content. Now, with already a small portion set aside for ads, why should they allow organic to grab a piece of that?

Facebook instant articles is just a way for Facebook to say F*** You to Google. Google controls the search. Facebook knows it. What can they do to stop Google? Cut off the source of the content Google relies on to show search results. Get people to publish on Facebook instead of the open web. Facebook can, at any time, stop Google from indexing its pages.

There you go. Now you can even start charging money for publishers to publish on your page. Or arm-twist them into paying you a lower share of the ad revenue.

What do publishers get at the end of the day? Nothing. They are sacrificing their future by giving in to Facebook’s demands today.