Facebook decides it likes publishers again (for now)
Facebook can never seem to make its mind up about whether it wants to work with news publishers or not.
There was a time when it gifted huge traffic boosts to any link a publisher shared, then it wanted them to pay for the traffic. Then there was the time it convinced publishers to ‘pivot to video,’ only to decide video wasn’t the future after all. Then it said it was out of the news game, then it said it would give a boost to local news… and now it seems to like big national publishers again???
The Wall Street Journal [paywalled but summarised here by the New York Times
] says Facebook is in talks with big US publishers like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Dow Jones about paying them “millions of dollars” to include their headlines and previews of stories in a 'News’ tab. The headlines would then link to the publishers’ own sites.
Facebook’s relationship with news organisations is like that of a couple who are a terrible match for each other but can’t seem to ever permanently break up.
Publishers covet the audience Facebook can provide, and Facebook needs the credibility that good quality news sources offer. But Facebook can’t seem to stick with whether to treat news publishers as customers who must pay to drink from the traffic fountain, or partners who can provide a service that enhances its own offering to users.
This latest initiative is the latter, and is potentially a brilliant deal for those included, as it seemingly offers both cash and website traffic.
But bitter past experience will lead wise publishers not to rely to heavily on a revenue boost from Facebook. Who knows when Mark Zuckerberg might have another change of heart?