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Facebook will host news content on the site

March 24, 2015

Facebook may soon start hosting news content on its site. The collaboration also demonstrates how important e-commerce platforms have become in today's world. Increasingly, businesses of all kinds are leveraging technology solutions and online networks to gain wider reach with consumers.

Facebook may soon start hosting news content on its site. In partnership with several media organizations, the social networking company is taking its scope of operation in a new direction. The collaboration also demonstrates how important e-commerce platforms have become in today’s world. Increasingly, businesses of all kinds are leveraging technology solutions and online networks to gain wider reach with consumers.

Media organizations partner with Facebook to deliver news content
Media organizations look to Facebook’s 1.4 billion users and see the potential to expand their influence. With so many consumers today reading news on their smartphones, partnership with the social networking company could mean a huge increase in viewership. Accordingly, several media organizations have been in discussions with Facebook and soon the social networking company will start testing a new format for delivering news content. The New York Times reported that in addition to itself, Facebook’s initial partners are BuzzFeed, National Geographic and The Times. CNET mentioned that The Huffington Post and Quartz are also considering featuring their content on the site.

The main idea behind the partnership is that featuring content inside Facebook would save people time. Currently, when a user clicks on a link for a news article, a separate browser window opens. If content is already imbedded in News Feeds, presumably, users would see more news and spend less time moving between pages. Especially considering how much people use mobile devices today, this aspect may indeed improve readership statistics. 

Facebook will make tiny improvements that can add up to big results
The New York Times pointed out that Facebook has stated publicly that it wants to make the news reader’s online experience more seamless. Right now, news articles on the site are linked to the publisher’s portals. Clicking on these links typically takes approximately eight seconds to load. Facebook’s intention is to cut that time down, because the company thinks that will make a big difference. Edward Kim, chief executive of the analytics and distribution company SimpleReach, explained that small increases in the speed of a site result in greater user satisfaction and more traffic. In Kim’s opinion, Facebook’s plan is primarily based on small improvements to improve the user experience, however, it must be structured properly. 

“But there are a lot of implications for publishers,” Kim added, according to the news source. “It really comes down to how Facebook structures this, and how they can ensure this is a win on both sides.”

According to The New York Times, the time to make these changes is now, because the increase in video on Facebook has resulted in less traffic for many media organizations with links on the site. Video is a good source of advertising revenue, and as such, users are choosing to watch clips instead of read articles.

Facebook and media organizations may have to share advertising revenue 
PCWorld reported that some news organizations are treading carefully and reluctant to give over control of their content. Some have suggested that publishers join together and negotiate deals for the whole industry as well as control their own advertising in the new arrangement.

The New York Times explained that several revenue-sharing ideas are being thrown around, including one that would allow publishers to show a single ad in a custom format inside each news article hosted on Facebook. Historically, the social networking site has not engaged in any revenue sharing, but it seems now the company is willing to explore the idea. Regardless, publishers are reluctant to accept any terms quickly, given that hosting content on Facebook will also lead to a loss of traffic and valuable consumer data. This consumer information could possibly go to Facebook instead and be used to bolster its own services. Alan Mutter, a newspaper consultant believes publishers will inevitably have to allow their content to be hosted on foreign sites. Mutter also acknowledged these new proposals are scarier for news organizations and publishers than it is for Facebook.

“In the short term, it’s a scary proposition because publishers want to control their brand, and their audience and their advertising dollars,” said Mutter, according to the news source.

For Facebook, the story is quite different as the company has everything to gain and not much to lose.

“It enhances user satisfaction [on Facebook], keeps users on its site and has better content which allows it to sell advertising at better rates,” Mutter added.

Ultimately, collaboration between news organizations and Facebook shows that the world is changing. E-commerce and social networking platforms are increasingly important in business, and companies are faced with a simple choice – sink or swim. Organizations that choose to accept a future shaped by targeted advertising and consumer behavior data are the ones that will likely learn to swim. For those that don’t, there is always the example of print journalism to learn from.

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