Saturday, May 16, 2015

(The Big Disrupt) Facebook: Did Publishers Just Give Up Their Only Edge Over Facebook for Ad Money?

Facebook deal with major publishers that allows Facebook to host their content is at once the smartest and dumbest move publishers could make as while they could take a bite out of Facebook growing ad revenue, they lose the prized commodity of any business in the modern age, the time and attention of their consumers.

Facebook endgame is obvious as the social network clearly wants to own it's audience as it makes it money from the time and information it users spend and share on the platform and the biggest impediment to that is publishers and other content creators who take their audience out of the Facebook platform and on to their own. Facebook Instant Articles CMS (Content Management System) serves as a way to get publishers to publish content on Facebook directly which allows Facebook to host the publishers content and gain leverage on them as they become dependent on the money they'll make either selling ads on the platform around their Facebook content or allowing Facebook to sell it for them.

Publishers however aren't stupid and are fully aware of the risks of allowing Facebook to host their content directly. Publishers see their use of Facebook new CMS as a way to get their hands on the mobile ad cash Facebook has been earning and they've been largely losing out on. However, letting Facebook host their content directly for more mobile ad cash is not a great trade.

In fact,  it just might the worst trade in history of publishing as like it or not publishers are in the same business Facebook are in and with a gang of publishers signing up to use Instant Articles, it's clearly a sign that publishers have waved the white flag. Facebook are much better at attracting and holding the attention of their users than publishers ever were and the fact that Facebook are making Publishers give up their content, the only edge they have over the social network who produces none whatsoever, is a quiet omission that they can't win or even hold their ground in the battle for the consumer's time or data.

Facebook real competition is obviously Google as search and social media advertising giants square up against each other in the mobile ad space but with Instant Articles, Facebook has managed to what Google has failed miserably to accomplish, get publishers on side. It's one of the most delicious ironies of our age that two companies that produce no content have a grip over content creators in general with Google, through its ownership of YouTube, dominating the online video market and Facebook now beginning to tighten their grip over publishers.

Expect this trend to get worse as both companies continue to flex their muscles and both content creators and publishers find themselves having to grin and bear the consequences both companies slowly asserting themselves as media owners. 

In sum, the decision of publisher to trade their content for better mobile ad performance may prove to be a poor long term decision but in truth, Publisher are just a pawn in Facebook larger chess game with Google in the battle over the time and attention of consumers on the web.  

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