|Chart of the week: Google's replacing Facebook as top referrer to publishers
||Facebook hasn’t made many friends among publishers lately. The company’s announcement that it would de-prioritise publishing content in its algorithm had many in the industry up in arms. However, there are signs that the drop in referral traffic from Facebook is offset by traffic gains coming from Google searches, especially in the mobile section.
Research by Chartbeat indicates that this phenomenon isn’t all that new. The below chart shows that Google mobile searches have closed in and overtaken mobile referral traffic from Facebook from August last year onwards.
This is probably linked to the fact that “more publishers have been signing up for the Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages,” according to Recode. The AMP service hosts publishers’ content on Google servers, which reduces loading time for mobile users.
The good news for the publishing industry is that Facebook referral traffic losses can be compensated. The bad news is that this doesn’t solve the overall problem of dependency on platforms. It might make publishers even more dependent on just one player.
|Chart of the week: Users are spending less time on single pages
||The average session length on publishers’ pages dropped below two minutes over the course of last year, according to Taboola data published by eMarketer.
Time spent with an individual page was 1.90 minutes in the fourth quarter of 2017, down from 2.09 minutes in the first quarter of the year.
The likely reason for this development is due to users consuming more content directly on platforms. This data is yet another indicator, that platforms are one of the biggest challenges faced by publishers.
|Chart of the week: Trust in platforms vs journalism
||Worldwide, seven out of ten respondents worry that fake news or false information could be used as a weapon. Also, 59 per cent say that it is getting harder to tell if a piece of news was produced by a respected media organisation.
Overall, media has lost some trust, however, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer Report, journalism (i.e. traditional media and online-only media) is regaining some trust in comparison with platforms, understood as search engines and social media (such as Google, YouTube, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
Trust in journalism jumped five points year-over-year while trust in platforms dipped two points.
However, one major problem is that the boundaries between these forms of media are blurring. “Some people consider platforms to be part of ‘the media’ — including social media (48 per cent) and search engines (25 per cent) — alongside journalism (89 per cent), which includes publishers and news organisations.” Most likely, the fall-off of trust in social and search, and of the credibility of peer communication, are contributing to the overall decline of trust in media, according to Edelman.
|Chart of the week: What are the risks to success for publishers in 2018?
||Social media, and above all Facebook, took a lot of heat for its perceived role in disseminating rumour and false news, most prominently during the US election campaign in 2016. Now, the firm has announced that it will give publishers less space for promoting their content (organically) on its platform. This is of course is bad news for publishers.
This sort of decision is probably one of the reasons why publishers rank platforms to be one of the greatest threats to their business success in 2018. Twenty-one per cent of senior media publishers interviewed by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) think platforms are a real risk to business.
However, apart from annoying publishers, Facebooks’ decision has far greater consequences: While the company argues that it wants to re-priorities updates from friends, family member and other contacts, in reality, it won’t shut down news about other news-worthy real world events being disseminated.
It’s only that the voice of those who filter and verify news professionally, the so-called gatekeepers in the news media, will be tuned down, possibly making the spread of false news and rumours even more prevalent. It’s almost as if Facebook is shying away from its real responsibilities.