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.

Branding in Sri Lanka, Facebook & publishing : Monday Note

Is Branding Losing its Relevance?

This was an interesting insight into marketing and branding in Sri Lanka.

I did find some of the statements generic and not very helpful. This may because news coverage did not give the full scope of what was discussed.

I’m currently reading Scott Galloway’s excellent book and he makes a number of salient points about branding in the digital age, referencing this study.

The top 100 packaged-goods brands collectively saw sales and market share slip significantly in the past year, according to a report from Catalina, adding to recent reports of woe for the industry’s biggest players.

While prior reports have showed the biggest manufacturers in CPG have been shedding share to smaller ones for years, it was natural to assume top brands, which get the lion’s share of management focus and marketing dollars, were faring better than the overall companies. Not so, according to the Catalina report, drawn from a representative sample of scanner data from 26,000 food, drug and mass-merchandise stores in company’s in-store promotion network.

Catalina found sales for the top 100 brands collectively declined 0.8% to $56.8 billion, even as overall sales tracked by Catalina increased 6% for the year ended June 30.

As Scott points out:

The digital age, with its transparency and innovation, has declared war on the heart. Search engines and user reviews are adding a level of transparency that’s starching much of the emotion from purchase decisions. Google and Amazon have signaled the end of the brand era, as consumers are less apt to defer to emotion when god (Google) or his cousin (Amazon) tell you to not be stupid and buy Amazon-branded batteries (a third of all batteries sold on the internet) vs. Duracell.

Does this mean the death of branding? No, but it does mean that the internet has made a far greater number of products vulnerable to substitute goods.


Facebook will give publishers 100% of revenue

I found the reports on this amusing because of what was generally not stated. The numerous indulgences that Facebook is bestowing upon publishers,

the opportunity to pay in order to retrieve the required content, with any transactions carried out directly on the publisher’s own website – from which they will retain 100% of all revenue. This control will extend to pricing and subscriber data.

will no doubt come at a price. Facebook users themselves will be part of this, with the data they reveal when interacting with the articles but publishers would be very naive to think that it stops there. Once Facebook becomes the audience delivery mechanism, the balance of power (such as it is) will be wholly tilted towards them.

Facebook vs. YouTube: battling over music

Two recent analyses highlighted an increasingly heated battle over the dominant player in music video streaming.

Music video is streaming music’s killer app. According to MIDiA’s latest consumer survey, 45% of consumers watch music videos on YouTube or Vevo every month, while 25% of consumers use YouTube for music every week (more than any of the streaming audio services). So what YouTube and Vevo do has real impact.

– Source

The world’s largest social network has redoubled its efforts to reach a broad accord with the industry, according to interviews with negotiators at labels, music publishers and trade associations. A deal would govern user-generated videos that include songs and potentially pave the way for Facebook to obtain more professional videos from the labels themselves.

– Source

Digital Giants Tighten Their Grip on Top Media Owner Ranking

With both companies being increasingly cast a media companies, this is a key confrontation. Music is a key driver for online video and in the case of YouTube, the stats are very telling.

Share of U.S. population who have used YouTube to watch music videos or listen to music