Facebook hosts content for news publishers as ‘walled garden’ grows


Facebook has struck a revenue sharing deal with a number of publishes, with New York Times, BuzzFeed and National Geographic sharing revenues from advertising around their stories on the social network.

The social network is hoping the deal will be mutually beneficial, by exposing the content to a larger audience, but some publishers are wary to give up control over their content.

Facebook is a formidable competitor in content marketing, and not just because it has 890m daily active users. The company’s news feed algorithm is an increasingly important news filter, particularly for younger “millennials”.

Previously, Facebook only displayed content from these publications via links to the news organizations’ own websites.

Its report says a trial could begin in the next few months, with news stories hosted on Facebook so that users would not have to click links to read them on external websites.

“To make the proposal more appealing to publishers, Facebook has discussed ways for publishers to make money from advertising that would run alongside the content,” claimed the article, although none of the companies concerned have spoken on the record.

The 'big dog' Facebook- a friend or foe?

This strategy was first reported on last October, when David Carr of the New York Times wrote that Facebook went on a “listening tour” with publishers to discuss hosting their content and sharing advertising revenue.

Carr compared Facebook’s relationship with publishers to “that big dog galloping toward you in the park.” The idea being, you don’t know whether to welcome it or fear it. The benefits of such an arrangement include faster loading times for publishers, and getting their content to users faster.

But Carr noted that many publishers are wary of giving Facebook the level of control over their brand and advertising dollars that hosting their stories on the site would entail.

Speaking at the Code/Media conference in Laguna Niguel in February, Facebook chief product officer Chris Cox moved to assuage those fears, saying, “We don’t want to try and devour and suck in the Internet.”

Facebook is not the only social media site looking to keep readers on site by using external content.

Social app Snapchat recently launched its Discover feature, which hosts text, photo and video stories from brands including Vice, Daily Mail, Cosmopolitan and CNN, and makes money from advertising.

Another app, Flipboard, recently floated the idea of hosting news publishers’ stories on its own system, as it expanded from tablets and smartphones to the web.

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