Facebook Instant Articles, Big Tech Backlash, an interesting poll: Friday Note

Facebook Instant Articles

While I meant what I tweeted about the implications of the change by Facebook not being understood by publishers in Sri Lanka (whose knowledge of digital is rudimentary at best), clearly the implications are serious.

As I wrote here, Facebook’s favours come at a price. It turns out the price was a price —  pay to be seen. Those of us who work with brands on a regular basis know this all too well, with organic reach on a constant and steady decline.

 

This nicely illustrates the issues:

We are an in-depth investigative news source that does not build its audience on virality, and the bulk of our readership is quite loyal. In spite of that, we have come from weeks of high virality, given the political turmoil we live in. So users and traffic behavior has been very atypical in the last weeks. However, if we compare our current figures (after the change) with a typical week figures, we find we our referral traffic from Facebook fell by 48%, new users fell by 27%, but new sessions rose by 40%. While in a typical week new sessions represent around 32.5% of the total referral traffic by Facebook, this week it amounts to 45.9%. That might mean this week Facebook has undermined our reach to our most loyal Facebook subscribers.


Fearsome! Dreadful! Five!

Clearly, the zeitgeist is changing and we’re in a (belated but welcome) period of extreme scepticism about the major tech companies. Both Techcrunch‘s and The NYT‘s angle in these articles were a departure from the more common politicised angles and focused on the impact on innovation.

Start-ups are still getting funding and still making breakthroughs. But their victory has never been likely (fewer than 1 percent of start-ups end up as $1 billion companies), and recently their chances of breakout success — and especially of knocking the giants off their perches — have diminished considerably.
The best start-ups keep being scooped up by the big guys (see Instagram and WhatsApp, owned by Facebook). Those that escape face merciless, sometimes unfair competition (their innovations copied, their projects litigated against). And even when the start-ups succeed, the Five still win.


And finally, Political Typology Reveals Deep Fissures on the Right and Left was one of the most interesting US politics polls I’ve seen of late.

  • The classification of the political continuum. This seemed an insightful and logical in the US context and one that could be adapted elsewhere.
  • The power of partisanship is striking in the poll and how this is driven by a distaste for “the other side”.

Once the candidate is decided, from a campaigning perspective, this provides an incredible and possibly insurmountable challenge. The real battle during a campaign then moves to wooing the undecided or floating voter.

However, the really interesting decision comes before this, when deciding on the party candidate. How should these types of numbers impact on that choice? With an American system of primaries, this will inevitably be hugely contentious.

Monday note – everyone is woke & against BigTech

A quiet weekend both professionally and personally.

Big Tech

I was amused by a number of articles that showed how the zeitgeist is shifting against big tech, on both social and economic grounds. Among the more notable ones were:

I’m all for this scepticism and this story – Airbnb’s home-hotel hybrid will open in Florida next year – did nothing to dissuade me.

I think this tweet captured my feelings best:


There is a long-running debate within a group of my friends on how to best to market vegan products and veganism. We have one vegan who I regard as quite militant, and a couple of others (including myself) who aspire to eat more vegan meals. My personal advice (based on my professional experience) is to focus less on the animal cruelty aspect and to incorporate more health and taste issues.

With all that in mind, and with the Silicon Valley scepticism I discussed earlier, this article was especially interesting – What Exactly Is Vegan-Mayonnaise Company Hampton Creek Selling?

It has a little bit of everything, from insights into marketing

to the cult of the disruptive entrepreneur

and the inevitable backlash