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April 11, 2017 | Shaun Bremner

Publishers Grow Increasingly Frustrated with Social Media Giants

Publishers continue to be frustrated by the ever-changing algorithms and updates that Facebook and Google force upon them. They are complaining that the duopoly of these social media giants is significantly affecting the reach of their content and ultimately, their digital revenues.

Facebook has attempted to create a balance for publishers who are looking for a solution to their falling traffic numbers but have only seen their efforts frustrate newsrooms further. This is down to Facebook’s constantly shifting priorities and numerous algorithm changes. Their latest annoyance with Facebook came when they decided to make articles less visible within the newsfeed, this resulted in a sharp decline in organic visitors.

Facebook has also been extremely vague with the analytics they provide, which has added to publisher frustrations because they can’t gauge where they are losing their traffic and whether their digital strategy is actually working. Facebook suffered one major setback in September when they had to publically apologise for overestimating the time users spent watching videos on the platform, this was exaggerated by up to 80%. Putting an additional strain on the relationship between the two parties. [1]

A recent study undertaken by INMA reinforced the current disgruntled relationship, finding that ‘More than half of respondents said they were dissatisfied with the revenue they generate with ads sold against content on Facebook and how Facebook has informed them of changes in their products and services’.

Google ads have also come under fire from publishers as they aren’t thrilled with the ad revenue that its generated from the platform. Solely relying on Google ads has proved unsustainable for publishers and they are now looking at alternative strategies in order to generate revenue from their digital solutions.

These ongoing issues have triggered publishers to take action. This month two dozen regional publishers in the UK, including Johnston Press, Archant and DC Thompson called on brands to reject the ‘blind programmatic’ ad buying which is directly aligning them with fake or extremist content online via Facebook and Google. This show of partnership between publishers has to happen in order for them to take on Facebook and Google and secure a sustainable digital model. [2]

The lack of transparency when it comes to Google and Facebook seems to be the main issue with Publishers. They know their audience is on Facebook, however, the platform is making it difficult for them to reach them. This is an ongoing issue and is in both sides interest to find a solution, we plan to monitor this relationship closely as it progresses.

In the meantime, let us know what struggles you have faced with either of these digital giants by commenting below.

[1] http://www.editorandpublisher.com/columns/digital-publishing-why-publishers-are-shifting-away-from-facebook/

[2] http://www.1xl.co.uk/adcharter/adcharter.pdf