Publishers can post entire news articles on Facebook
News publishers have been confronting the problem of monetizing content for several years, but their efforts have achieved minimal success. Despite the shift to digital, most newspaper readership continues to be in print format, but newspaper circulation has fallen year after year. As a result, print newspaper ad revenue plummeted from sixty-five billion dollars in 2000 to less than twenty billion in 2015. Increases in digital ad revenue have not been beefy enough to compensate for drops in print revenue.
When readers do approach the online formats of news articles, they tend to read them on mobile devices instead of desktop computers. On average, they remain on those news sites for only three minutes per visit.
In response, many news publishers have toyed with various versions of paywalls, offering readers different levels of access based on payment. Charging for content has generally worked best for the largest publishers who have long-standing reputations for quality, while newer upstarts have had difficulty gaining paid subscribers.
Studies have shown that even when readers are willing to pay for content, the platforms are not user friendly enough to persuade customers to complete their transactions. Many publishers do not provide an easy and accessible content-buying experience or quick, secure payment methods.
Instant Articles Adjusts to Publishers’ Needs
When Facebook rolled out its Instant Articles program, it seemed to offer a solution to publishers’ woes. Publishers who paid to partner with Facebook would be permitted to post entire articles on readers’ FB feeds, instead of only posting links to articles that readers would have to click through to access.
The earning potential from FB ads is enormous. FB allows publishers to keep 100 percent of ad income if the publishers sell the ads themselves, or 70 percent of the revenue when FB sells the ad space. Facebook collects reams of information about its users, which allows it to customize ads and target readers effectively.
Initially, publishers complained that FB’s restrictive ad policy did not allow them to earn enough revenue to justify posting on FB instead of on their own sites. Fortunately, FB heard their cries and in December 2015, responded to their concerns by adjusting its ad policy. Now, there are more ads accompanying each post on Instant Articles, and publishers have seen an uptick in their profits. Monetization has improved, and publishers are more inclined to post a greater percentage of their content directly to FB.
Facebook is the dominant social network provider, boasting 1,100,000,000 estimated unique monthly visitors. Posting on Instant Articles instantly exposes publishers’ content to a vast number of readers, making it a wholly viable solution to the problem of monetizing news content.