Facebook’s recent algorithm changes have been a harsh dose of reality for publishers, and it’s left some scrambling to make up for the lost revenues and audience they were getting from both video and written syndication on the social media site. While some will opt for the subscription model, and others (smartly) go to owned-and-operated channels (like their own web pages), Twitter is becoming a new (old) solution. Twitter’s comeback leans on publisher-focused video properties and what appears to be stronger partnerships through the platform. In the wake of the News Feed’s demise, we’ll see if this becomes a viable alternative for a wide group of content providers.
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The browser changes will block irritating ad units, including video banner ads that feature sound already playing, often with no controls for playback or volume. There is a lot of confusion in the industry about how Google’s proposed “media engagement index” will affect publishers’ primary video players, which have been a critical revenue stream for premium publishers.
The study suggests that brands should no longer expect a single, universal moment of greatest engagement from consumers throughout the day and that “traditional reach” metrics falter when they don’t take consumer focus and intent into consideration… “In the age of ‘big data’ it makes no sense for advertisers to place their focus solely on big numbers, when they can take advantage of insights that can help them pinpoint the right customer, the right way, at the right time.”
Reducing third-party data usage doesn’t come without its challenges, however. Third-party data is often used to personalize customer experiences, and customers increasingly expect this. The Accenture study mentioned above found that “58 percent of consumers would switch half or more of their spending to a provider that excels at personalizing experiences without compromising trust.”
Publications that have built up a trusted reputation over the course of several years are increasingly offering a greater diversity of product options, such as content marketing opportunities for brands to engage with readers as thought leaders. The publication of this kind of thought leadership content by a respected newsbrand, either online or in print, invokes a level of legitimacy that cannot be replicated simply by posting a blog on a corporate website or social platform, bolstering the credibility of brands and individuals within companies.
To some extent, that uptick was driven by growth in branded content, with more content studios producing more campaigns that require more paid distribution. Worldwide spend on branded content totaled $5 billion in 2017, according to estimates from branded content distributor Polar, up from $3.6 billion in 2016. But higher prices played a role, too. Over the past two months, the cost per click publishers pay for Facebook ads grew 16 percent year over year, per Keywee.
Increasingly, media companies say that Twitter has found a sweet spot as a true programmer with a unique strength in live video. And more important, it’s a reliable revenue producer known for making balanced, high-upside revenue deals. That stands in stark contrast with Facebook, which has angered many in the media industry by constantly jerking around partners — or failing to treat content companies as partners at all.
Sphere is “borne out of the need for publishers to have sustainable audience development beyond Facebook and beyond Google,” Matt Crenshaw, U.S. general manager at Outbrain, told Publishers Daily. (Facebook and Google grabbed more than 60% of digital ad spend in 2017.) Relying on one platform for marketing, revenue and distribution can be “toxic” for publishers, Crenshaw said. The motives of publishers and Facebook “are not aligned. Facebook is not in the business to create the best news experience online.”