The New York Times has brought to light the fact that Facebook is looking at options for hosting linked content on its own site, and serving ads on that content, rather than linking out and redirecting users to other sites. This change, if it were to happen, would be specific to mobile.
That means Facebook would be causing website owners to lose traffic to the page being hosted on Facebook, as well as any potential for the user to click through the site and explore content on other pages. In addition, website owners could also potentially lose revenue as a result of the lost traffic.
This move is already proving to be quite controversial, with publishers and marketers alike expressing their discontent. Facebook believes this change will be more convenient to users, but another way to look at it is that Facebook will be publishing others’ content which can have a real impact on a site’s pageviews and ad revenue.
To please publishers, Facebook is discussing the option of revenue sharing to the website that owns the content being hosted.
In the New York Times article, Facebook explains how they intend to keep things cordial with publishers:
Facebook hopes it has a fix for all that. The company has been on something of a listening tour with publishers, discussing better ways to collaborate. The social network has been eager to help publishers do a better job of servicing readers in the News Feed, including improving their approach to mobile in a variety of ways. One possibility it mentioned was for publishers to simply send pages to Facebook that would live inside the social network’s mobile app and be hosted by its servers; that way, they would load quickly with ads that Facebook sells. The revenue would be shared.
That kind of wholesale transfer of content sends a cold, dark chill down the collective spine of publishers, both traditional and digital insurgents alike. If Facebook’s mobile app hosted publishers’ pages, the relationship with customers, most of the data about what they did and the reading experience would all belong to the platform. Media companies would essentially be serfs in a kingdom that Facebook owns.
What was not mentioned in the article is if publishers have any option to say ’no’ to this. If you’re a website owner who publishes content, how would you feel about this change? Please weigh in by leaving a comment.