For years publishers, broadcasters and anyone else in the media business have wondered if Facebook could be their salvation.
The old publishing business model has crumbled. Building mass audiences with entertainment or information then selling advertising no longer delivers rivers of gold.
Some saw Facebook as an answer. Perhaps not the answer, the question is too complex for a single response. And anyway, Facebook has always been part of the problem.
Yet for a moment it looked as if the
social media giant could breathe life back into the
advertising-lead business model.
After all Facebook is a mighty empire. It has greater reach and more influence than any organisation in history.
Yet it turns out the emperor has no clothes. Well, fewer clothes.
The Wall Street Journal reports Facebook has misreported its viewing figures for the past two years.
Advertisers have been given numbers that
overestimate the amount of time Facebook users watch video
by between 60 and 80 percent. This comes after the social
media giant talked about the rapid growth in its video
There’s a growing fear among advertisers that Facebook and Google hide too much of this kind of information. That’s ironic, because one reason advertisers tell traditional publishers they prefer online media is ‘accountability’.
This isn’t the only bad news Facebook has for traditional publishers. In June there was an algorithm change which saw Facebook prioritise material from human accounts while decreasing the number of posts users would see from media companies.
Those publishers who depend on Facebook to deliver readers get less traffic as a result.
publishers feel they have no choice but to throw in their
lot with Facebook. After all, it is the largest source of
traffic for most big media companies. And Facebook has
consistently pushed itself to publishers in a bid to fill
its pages with their, free-to-Facebook,
Yet Facebook has proved a fickle and unsympathetic partner. Its relationship with traditional media is asymmetric.
It’s not clear if Facebook’s recent misreporting was deliberate or accidental. The difference doesn’t matter much to publishers, either way they suffer.
is all about building compelling services that win large
audiences. It then sells that attention to advertisers.
Google is the same.
In many respects both are following the traditional media-advertising model, although there are huge differences of scale and neither invests heavily in producing original material. Instead they let other people do the heavy lifting.
You can see this as a parasitic way of making money. Despite all the goody-two shoes rhetoric about extending the reach of the internet into the poorer areas of the world or bringing people together, the pair are vast empires that care little for what goes on down at the grass-roots level.
Facebook is not the answer to publishers’ prayers, it is yet another nail in their coffin.
Facebook not the media messiah was first posted at billbennett.co.nz