Facebook is proposing a revenue share deal with publishers that could see newspapers, magazines, and websites send their articles for the social network to host direct on its mobile app, the New York Times reports.
Facebook has recent embarked on a “listening tour” with publishers, discussing better ways they can collaborate, particularly when it comes to mobile, the article details.
Facebook, whose mobile app is opened up by 654 million users daily, has honed its mobile offering to load up content quickly. Publisher websites, on the other hand, can be clunky and are often slowed by the amount of advertising they host, where a number of auctions take place in a matter of milliseconds to determine the highest bidder for an ad spot. Facebook hopes to provide publishers with a quick fix to that issue and make content consumption on mobile more seamless.
The direct-to-Facebook publishing approach is just one of the options on the table. The idea is that any advertising revenue would be shared (although it’s not yet clear what the split would be.)
The suggestion is likely to send a “cold, dark chill” down the spines of publishers, the New York Times, writes. Not only does it signal Facebook’s growing influence over the media — it is the principal source of referral traffic to the majority of digital publishers — but signing up to a content share agreement would no doubt also mean that they would be signing away the rights to data about how their readers consume their content.
However, with its 1.3 billion users worldwide, and a finely-tuned algorithm that attempts to surface only the most interesting and relevant content to users, it is important for publishers to maintain an amicable relationship with Facebook — even if many would prefer it was kept at arm’s length.
Facebook’s chief product officer Chris Cox told The New York Times: “We are at the very beginning of a conversation and it’s very important that we get this right. Because we play an increasingly important role in how people discover the news that they read every day, we feel a responsibility to work with publishers to come up with as good an experience as we can for consumers. And we want and need that to be a good experience for publishers as well.”
This new suggestion for mobile content would not be the first time Facebook has asked publishers to form content partnerships. In 2011, a number of publishers including The Guardian, The Washington Post, Business Insider and The Independent partnered with Facebook to create “Social Reader” apps to allow users to consume and share content in the Facebook environment.
However, in 2012 the majority of those publishers began to phase out those apps as although many of them proved extremely popular, the majority of the engagement was happening only on the Facebook platform, without much click-through to the publishers’ own sites (where they can generate revenue.). In some cases it was even cannibalising traffic to publishers’ own sites. The Social Reader App also generated what many users deemed as excessive updates about what readers were reading, clunking up the News Feed.
Earlier this year Facebook also launched standalone app Paper, its answer to news aggregation apps like Feedly and Flipboard. However, its popularity tanked soon after launch.
Business Insider has contacted Facebook and a number of publishers to check the veracity of the New York Times piece. This article will be updated when responses are received.
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