It was a turning point for publishers in their relationship with the big tech companies like Facebook, Apple and Snapchat, and a sign of what’s to come. If 2015 was the year the publishers pushed caution aside and went all in on platforms, 2016 will be about tension and refinement.
The platforms need publishers’ content to keep users engaged, and keep advertisers paying to reach them, and the premium publishers know their content has value. So look for the platforms to make more concessions, as Facebook has been considering changes to ads on Instant Articles after constraints made it hard for publishers to sell ads. Snapchat is making it easier for publishers to get their Snapchat articles discovered outside of the closed messaging app.
Look for publishers to fine-tune their distribution approaches as they see where investment is paying off, too. Publishing on platforms will move from the shiny-object phase into the realm of hard-headed business decisions. Publishers will begin to get choosier — and to drive a harder bargain with platforms.
“It’s not a huge resource suck, but you can’t do everything at once,” Andrew Morse, GM of CNN Digital, recently said in explaining why CNN prioritized getting the publisher on Snapchat ahead of Facebook Instant Articles. “You have to phase things.”
The 2015 platform push started with Snapchat launching Discover, a news section populated by customized articles and videos from the likes of CNN, People and Comedy Central. Facebook got top-tier publishers including The New York Times and National Geographic to upload their articles directly to its app through its fast-loading Instant Articles feature. Google and Twitter responded with their own fast-articles tool, AMP, with The Washington Post, Vox Media and many others on board.
In their desire to pull in as many readers and keep them there as long as possible, the platforms need content people want to read, so they’ve courted the publishers.
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