Media backlash hits Facebook
Facebook is so dominant as an advertising vehicle, media distributor and social network that a backlash is not only inevitable, but healthy.
After reporting last week that Facebook was attempting to lure more publishers into its Instant Articles format with direct calls to action, one major media publisher has already pulled out. The Guardian will no longer use Instant Articles, claiming that the format didn’t fit their commercial objectives.
Those publishing content via fast-loading Instant Articles share ad revenue with Facebook, but the reader stays within the social platform, they don’t come to the publisher’s site.
The Guardian joins the New York Times in pulling its stories out of the format.
More media companies – the creators of the news and features that Facebook sells ads off the back of – are expressing anger at the strangling of organic reach on the platform.
The story of the Chicago Tribune newspaper is typical of what is happening. It has noticed that stories with less than a 10,000 reach are rising rapidly. In December 2016, eight posts reached fewer than 10,000 people. The following month, that grew to 80, then 159 in February and 242 in March. This has come at a time when fans of the newspaper’s page have continued to grow.
It seems Facebook’s prioritising of live and trending news means it is now setting its own agenda, which publishers can create content on and take advantage of – or ignore and be punished with tiny organic reach.
No wonder the influential journalist publication Press Gazette has launched a campaign called ‘Duopoly’ aimed at ‘stopping Google and Facebook destroying journalism’.
Pinterest all about search, not social
The power of Facebook is now so complete that other businesses in the same space are having to differentiate themselves in order to survive and thrive.
The latest is Pinterest, which has taken the step of removing its ‘like’ button as it seeks to re-position as a visual search engine, not a social network.
This follows Snapchat’s decision to position itself as a camera app, not a social network.
While those who use numbers of likes as a measurement metric on their accounts will be most directly affected, the move is broadly seen as positive for Pinterest.
Only the user who likes a pin can see their list of likes, whereas by clicking save on a pin, the user then must save it to a board, where it is visible to anyone who can see your profile.
Google ‘planning ad blocker for Chrome’
There are concerns about Google’s over-reaching influence too, after reports surfaced that it is planning an ad-blocker for its Chrome browser.
With Google already controlling the largest share of online advertising, its ability to then judge what is an acceptable form of advertising and block those it deems on the wrong side of the line, is a step too far for many advertisers.
“A monopoly which is already not affected by ad blocking in general because of paid whitelisting having more power is scary. Owning every aspect of the advertising world from tech to search to exchanges to measurement to servers to ad blocking within the browser just means less control again for everyone else,” says Meagan Lopez of The New York Times.
The Wall Street Journal and The Times reported the development – Google has yet to confirm or deny whether it’s true.
New AR options come to FB and Snapchat
Users of Snapchat and Facebook will have noticed new augmented reality options available via the cameras of both social apps.
These animated frames come with fun interactive items that can be placed by the user.
The possibilities for brands is clear – and Manchester United has become the first to partner with Facebook to produce an image overlay that generates crowd noises and screams ‘GOAL!’ in line with live match data.
Facebook is also promoting new effects inside live broadcasts – with one entitled ‘this or that’ being sure to appeal to brands seeking audience engagement. Broadcasters choose two options to display on screen, with the audience responding using a hashtag.
As the tech becomes more sophisticated, the audience might want to stop and think that while it’s cool to be able to move a virtual slogan or object around your front room, Facebook’s engineers will be using the data to build an even greater picture of the real stuff that is in your home for future artificial intelligence programming. Have we reached tipping point in the amount of information we give away?
Pull up a seat on Tumblr’s digital couch
Tumblr is taking its microblogging platform into new territory with the launch of a standalone app it’s dubbing ‘a digital couch’.
Cabana looks cool and has a simple premise – it lets up to six users video chat at the same time and stream YouTube videos while they are talking.
While this positioning puts it firmly in the teenage market, Tumblr is hoping that many more of its 340 million global users also take up the app as an alternative to other video hangout services.