The agreement by the web giant with some big titles is a good surprise: the result is beautiful and the media maintain their advertising revenue. Benevolence altogether logical the company Mark Zuckerberg to the sites.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015: the day that journalism has sold his soul, according to the most hysterical screams heard in the media world.
The user stays with Facebook
What happened? Facebook launched a new feature called “Instant items”, which allows users to read complete and interactive content from the New York Times, BuzzFeed, National Geographic and other media without leaving Facebook.
In the past, the media were content to post links on Facebook that redirigeaient readers to their own sites to read the articles in full. Now they allow Facebook to host those same articles, which gives Facebook an unprecedented control over the content.
The first “Instant items” are visible at this time on any mobile Apple device via the Facebook app (an Android version is in development). If any of your friends by sharing one, it will appear in your news feed like any other Facebook post. Otherwise, you can pick them up on Instant items, but you will be equipped with the latest version of the app for iOS if you want to see what it looks like. In a Web browser, they appear as classic items.
Usually, when you click a link in the Facebook application, you must wait several seconds for your device browser opens, it connects to the media site in question and to support all necessary elements. And again, it is possible that the wrong item to appear on your phone, because many sites are still designed primarily for desktop computers. Often videos and interactive elements do not work properly or are not even loaded.
This is a relatively minor annoyance to readers. This is a slightly bigger problem for media sites, who risk losing in attendance (and thus revenue) if frustrated readers zap their links to other Facebook posts that do not need to leave the application. Moreover, it is a potentially very annoying problem for Facebook, whose business model to hundreds of billions of dollars based on happy and involved users, who spend much time on their news feed.
Facebook knows that personal status and baby pictures are not enough to achieve this goal. Also, the company relies heavily on its plan to become the leading source of information of its users, in order to increase its value to them.
Surprise: it’s beautiful
“Instant Articles” solves this problem by passing Facebook status to that of a simple intermediary first destination where we will seek information. You will soon notice the difference: Articles posted directly on Facebook are accompanied by videos, font pleasant characters, interactive elements and other frills, as found little on the mobile Web. In short, it’s beautiful-and it almost instantly load.
Everything is going so well for Facebook and its users. But what about online news sites, whose business model is traditionally attract readers to their own sites? Is it as good news for them? On Wednesday, there was consensus that, no, it’s absolutely horrible for online media, which today yield control of their journalistic content in a predatory technological society inclined to dominate the world.
Why I changed my mind
I was one of the first recalcitrant. In January, when Facebook began to encourage media sites and other “creators” to directly load their videos on Facebook so they automatically play in the user thread, I predicted that he would soon be well to entire articles. I titled my article “How Facebook is devouring the media,” a nod to Marc Andreessen, who said that the software is devouring the world.
In March, when the New York Times confirmed that Facebook was negotiating this with several media, I had been afraid that the terms of agreements are hopelessly biased in favor of Facebook-and the media, unable to bargain collectively, end up being forced to accept the conditions of the social network.
I find myself today in a weird situation, because, even as the rest of the media finally ends up pushing the same cries of outrage than me in the last few months, I feel oddly reassured. Indeed, it appears that the original terms of the partnership are more favorable to the media that I had imagined it to me.
First, the articles no resemblance to Facebook posts: character fonts to the drawings, through the layout, each “Instant Article” bears the imprint characteristic of visual media which it comes.
More importantly, the media do not have to adapt somehow their content to a kind of new format tinkered by Facebook, as is the case for example with the function discoverySnapchat. They are content to publish their articles as usual and the code of Facebook automatically converts to the “Instant Article” format. Facebook will allow the media to measure and calculate the audience of items they post on social network and comScore will handle their credit that hearing.
Another surprise ad revenue
Even more surprisingly, Facebook will allow the media to reveal their own advertisements in their “Instant items”, income from these ads entirely from the media that have published them. Any unsold advertising space in an article will be filled by Facebook, the social network keeping only 30% of revenue generated by the advertisement. It’s an incredibly generous deal.
That said, all still reeks “offer we can not refuse,” worthy of the Godfather Coppola.Officially, freedom is total: no media is forced to participate and those who do choose the items they want to see Facebook integration. The New York Times and other initial partners have well insisted that it was an experience, not a commitment. But, as I have already explained, what’s optional and can quickly become inevitable when it comes to Facebook’s algorithms. It is almost certain that the “Instant Articles” will have more success in topical son than conventional bonds. And the media who do not participate will record probably a drop in attendance.
To and respect, Facebook takes online media at its thank you. The fact is, if we consider how the media today depend on Facebook to attract readers to them, we can say that the social network already takes his thank you to the media for some time. It’s just the first time he really benefits. And the good news is that, on this one there, it was not too nasty.
It must still remain vigilant
Let me be clear: the media would be wrong not to worry. The agreement seems very acceptable today, but it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to ask Facebook to reconsider its “Instant Articles” once the format has taken and that everyone will have adopted . This was shown excellent Casey Newton, the Verge magazine, in his article about the agreement:
“I asked Justin Osofsky, vice president of media partnerships for Facebook, if [the provisions concerning revenue sharing] was a limited time offer and could change in the future.” We are committed working with the media so as to give them tools so they can build their business “, he replied.” So in the end, you take what … 20%, 30%? “ I asked. “We will work with the media so as to give them tools so they can build their business”, he has repeated without blinking.
(Note to self: to show the reader that the interviewee is scary, think indicate that it answered a question with a trap made answer and “without blinking”.)
Furthermore, as stated Peter Kafka of Re / code, the data that Facebook shares with the media is not the most interesting elements. Facebook keeps total control over the identity data and user behavior, allowing it to sell more customized its media partners Ads can not offer. But no one really expected that Facebook sharing such information with anyone, what’s more with National Geographic.
There is no doubt that Facebook will eventually increase its revenue share if the company considers that this is what she needs. But the fact is that its present generosity is rather a good sign. This means that Facebook has more to keep users on their newsfeed that scrap with the media to recover a portion (less interesting) of their advertising revenue.
The media do not really sell their soul
If journalists could stop navel gazing for a moment, they would realize that all this is logical. The Guardian and the New York Times have a significant weight in the world of online media, but they are insignificant compared to Facebook and its giant competitors in the technology sector, which compete for more substantial income. Facebook Why he waste his time mistreating poor press publishers, so it can make them allies in the long war that pitted him against Google, Twitter, Snapchat and other technological heavyweights?
The agreement with Facebook suggests that the media can at least hope to keep control over the content of their publication.
We really need that Facebook is in a difficult situation that risks alienating its media sector partners bilking with varying contract. If that happened, it would probably be because other social networks would slowly lose its dominance to Facebook. And in this case, traffic from Facebook reverential no longer as important to the media today, and they are therefore more free to enter into a more interesting market with Snapchat, Tumblr or any other company that would have taken her spot.
Whether we like it or not, we’ll probably never to when the media had full control of the distribution and advertising sales. However, the agreement with Facebook suggests that the media can at least hope to keep control over the content of their publications. And the fact that a competitor like Facebook Snapchat also courting the media means that newspapers can retain enough power in negotiations not to see run their businesses. In the long term, some may find it more attractive to outsource the distribution and sale of advertisements to a financially sound technology giant to refocus on what they do best: treating the news.
Looking at the situation from this perspective, the media did not really sell their soul to Facebook. They only hire pending a more interesting solution.