Publishers disappointed in third-party platforms, Google tightens up ad policies, and socially-distributed video: the next trend.
Continuing with our bi-weekly news roundup, Caterina Sosso, together with Karin Fleming, shares the news that caught their eyes over the last two weeks.
The news round-up is a way for the Future Media Lab. team and members of the Future Media Lab. network to share articles about innovations and developments in the media sector,
including references to relevant media policy debates. To get this round-up sent directly to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter!
Here are Caterina and Karin's choices for this week:
Publishers ‘meh’ towards third-party platforms. A recent report from the publisher trade body Digital Content Next shows that publishers are making far less money than expected from the platforms such as Facebook, Google and Snapchat. Many publishers initially flocked to platforms like Facebook and Google, which can help drive traffic to publishers' websites. But in doing so, publishers ceded control over the monetization of the content and the ability to gather data on their audiences. These partnerships are constantly developing, but the leaked report highlights many key challenges that working together has posed, particularly in regard to control over ad units, monetization and scale.
While Google, Facebook, Snapchat, Apple, they all have been increasing their efforts to improve relationships with publishers in the past few months, many execs say that the results are still falling short. Nick Ascheim, senior vice president of digital at NBC news captured the frustration, saying “one of the most important sources of that content is us, and if that relationship continues to be where we can’t make it economically viable, it makes sense to take our content off there.”
What’s next: socially distributed video. The digital world is constantly evolving and so are publishers’ strategies. Today, with the cost of video production continuing to fall, socially distributed video is being set-up as the Next Big Thing. UK-publisher, JOE Media will not be caught unprepared: in October they launched a football show that they now broadcast on Facebook Live once a week. The 30-minute panel discussion has received hundreds of thousands of views since the first episode was launched last year.This trend echoes the huge increase in demand for mobile video, most of which is consumed on mobile devices.
Google bans 200 publishers for violating ad policies. This follows Google’s introduction to new policies that would ban publishers from its AdSense network who mislead users with their content. The policy update came as Google faced backlash for placing fake news stories from websites that impersonated news sites. In 2016, a total of 1.7 billion ads were taken down for violating Google’s policies, compared to 780 million the previous year. This uptick was attributed to improvements in the technology for detecting violations.
Facebook tests fake news solution in Germany. Germany has become a testing ground against fake news, as Facebook has chosen this country to test out tools that filter dubious stories from news feeds (which makes sense, since German politicians have come down hard on the distribution for fake news, such as proposing fines of €500.000+ if fake news stories weren’t removed from the platform within 24 hours). Since, Facebook has been working closely with publishers to identify ways to enhance Instant Articles and introduce other tools to help detect fake news articles. In Germany, Facebook has partnered with Correctiv, a third-party fact-checking organisation, to allow readers to flag suspicious stories for review. If a story is proven to be unreliable, it will be de-prioritized in the news feed, and a warning will be displayed stating that the story has been disputed. While many publishers say that this is a good first step, it’s difficult to see how Correctiv, a not-for-profit organization with a small team of journalists, would be able to handle processing potentially thousands of fake-news claims.
Interest-driven news in a changing media landscape. In the new book “Power is Everywhere: How Stakeholder-Driven Media Build the Future of Watchdog News”, the authors examine how the rise of stakeholder-driven media organizations are playing an increasing role in setting the news agenda and creating sustainable business models The book positions stakeholder-driven media organisations, which spans from greenpeace.org to breitbart.com, vis-à-vis impartial news organisations, saying that they differ from mainstream media in their “propositions, content and operations”. The authors argue that stakeholder-driven media (SDM) will continue to proliferate, and that they will be an increasingly powerful vehicle for “sustainable, fact-based watchdog” journalism.
Push notification and newsletter: how to obtain the best results. In the United States, The Washington Post has embraced newsletters and push alerts as a key channel for furthering the reach of their audiences. Today, the Post has roughly 70 different newsletters designed to appeal to specific segments of its audience, including The Optimist - a newsletter full of uplifting stories – and Read These Comments - a newsletter designed to highlight the best comments. While many see newsletters as just a distribution tool to get readers to click back to publishers’ own websites, the Post takes a different approach. “A newsletter is a product in itself,” says Tessa Muggeridge, the newsletter and alerts editor for the Post. Nic Newman also examined the success behind newsletters and push alerts in a Reuters Institute report last year.
A challenging time for news and journalism. Just before Donald Trump’s inauguration, President Obama appeared in an episode of the podcast “Pod Save America”, a project of former Obama staffers. During the interview he talked about his views on the problematic ways news is distributed and consumed today and gave advice to his “2009 self”. One statement that applies to Europe as well is “my instinct is everybody hates media right now. Everybody knows that the political culture doesn’t work. So that has to be an opportunity”. While 2017 does mark a challenging period for media, it also offers some opportunities. On Wednesday, 31 January Harvard University’s NiemanLab hosted a debate the future of news and journalism in a Post-Truth Era. In an overview of the discussions that took place that day, Gerard Baker, editor in chief of The Wall Street Journal said, “I think there are a lot of people out there who pursue quality journalism. And by all means support those people who are doing it — support good-quality journalism, subscribe to good-quality news organizations.”
Ad blocking usage surges in popularity. PageFair released a report about “The state of the blocked web”, which indicates that mobile adblock usage is exploding in Asia and that this trend is likely going to spread to North America and Europe. Currently, nearly 1 in 5 desktop Internet users are blocking ads, but mobile adblocking remains rare in both North America and Europe. That said, the total percentage of worldwide Internet users who actually use adblockers is only 11%. Furthermore, there’s an argument that as Internet usage moves away from open web pages and towards closed “walled garden” platforms the impact of adblockers over time is likely to decrease.