Publishers need Facebook more than Facebook needs them

Some magnificent graphs from NiemanLab.

So what has this done to traffic for Australian publishers? Our friends at Chartbeat shared some preliminary data with us, and the numbers ain’t good.

Let’s first look specifically at Facebook referrals — traffic that comes from Facebook’s properties to an Australian news publisher’s website. This is what happened to Facebook referral traffic from within Australia to those publishers.

 

The X-axis here is a span of 38 hours, starting at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Sydney time. The first half of the chart looks pretty normal — a nice hearty plateau of Facebook traffic in the afternoon and evening Wednesday, followed by a normal overnight dip as Australians go to sleep. The next morning, traffic started to creep up as it would on a typical day — until Facebook turns off the tap around 5:30 a.m. local time.

From that point, daytime traffic looks like the dead of night. In the 6 p.m. hour on Wednesday, Facebook sent 201,000 pageviews to Australian publishers. Twenty-four hours later, it sent just 14,000 — a 93 percent drop.

Oh dear – that can’t be good.

What is the bottom line here?

If this shutoff continues, I’d imagine that the more dedicated news consumers might adapt in ways that are, on net, positive for publishers. Maybe they go to a newspaper’s website more often, or they sign up for a daily newsletter to get their fix. But the casual reader of news on Facebook — and that’s most users, given that news stories make up only about 4 percent of the typical News Feed — might just skip out on news entirely.

Maybe Facebook and Australia will mend their rabbit-proof fences and this state of affairs will be short-lived. But until then, publishers have probably lost a decent-sized chunk of their audience.

Those same publishers keep telling us that Facebook is the big loser here, but I’m not seeing that in the data.

Ironically, this story itself cannot be shared on Facebook.

This entry was posted in #IstandwithFacebook. Bookmark the permalink.

54 Responses to Publishers need Facebook more than Facebook needs them

  1. stackja says:

    Facebook has disappeared. Daily Telegraph has not.

  2. mizaris says:

    Easy to share story on fascistbook … just copy and paste into your own feed or to any group. I did that with a few things yesterday and it worked well.

  3. Interested observer says:

    I have never found the Facebook newsfeed to be worth clicking on. I have my trusted sites that I browse every day I do use Facebook for business promotion and very local community news (lost dogs, power outages, queries about service providers). I ignore the mob pile ons that erupt daily (rural communities that never forget a grudge).

  4. JMH says:

    Intelligent Farcebook users should not be relying on that platform to provide any “news” whatsoever, particularly news deemed reliable. They should be going to the websites of news outlets.

  5. Lutz says:

    Another portal must be established as we cannot live on with the arbitrary and totally biased censorship of FB, TW IG and so on.

  6. mizaris says:

    Copy and paste also bypasses paywalls.

  7. tgs says:

    I stopped using Facebook year ago (I’m a millenial) and my quality of life has definitely improved. Still use Messenger as a convenient IM app but haven’t used the main functionality.

    Highly recommend. Social media is a net negative in my experience.

  8. Kim says:

    Publishers only need Facebook and google if the traffic is monetised. But the aggregator effect is to drive traffic value down to levels that are useless to small players. Publishers would be generally better off chasing paid subscribers – as much of the developing world players in the sector have done.

  9. Rusty of Qld says:

    I don’t get the obsession with Facebook, or any of the social media sewer. Just go on the web sight of any newspaper or other news service for the information, send an e-mail to your friend/friends if you want to chat.
    Tell Facebook, Twitter et al to get stuffed.

    p s I must be too old to understand

  10. BrettW says:

    Let us not forget it was FB who changed their algorithms so that the Hunter Biden laptop story did not get wider distribution. Plus yesterday wasn’t the FB page of the WA opposition affected but not the Premier and that is with an election coming soon.

  11. Paul says:

    opportunities for FB alternatives abound
    Maybe we will get something that does respect our privacy, and doesn’t censor free speech.

  12. Boxcar says:

    I remember when our noble politicians put tariffs on car imports to save the local industry.

  13. Rob MW says:

    Fancy publishers needing facebook to down-market their own brand and direct website traffic. Having two dicks is pointless if you can only use one at a time.

    Get off your asses and develop your own apps you lazy bastards and just as importantly, install your own server hardware so you can never be at the mercy of these socialist free-speech loathing fuckwits.

  14. Cassie of Sydney says:

    JMH
    #3761378, posted on February 19, 2021 at 12:21 pm
    Intelligent Farcebook users should not be relying on that platform to provide any “news” whatsoever, particularly news deemed reliable. They should be going to the websites of news outlets”

    Exactly. And I’ll repeat what I said yesterday, that FB news feeds, based on FB’s biased algorithms, have contributed to the dumbing down of debate across the west by feeding people progressive gunk.

    If you want news, go to a news website…be it The Oz, SMH, The Age or the Guardian. If you want weather news…go to the BoM website. FB has created and nurtured laziness. Whilst it’s not going to happen, I’d happily see FB, along with that other sewer called Twitter, shut down tomorrow……because whilst I do believe in free speech, these platforms don’t nurture free speech…in fact they not only discourage it, they actively work against it and the proof is what happened yesterday with FB arrogantly pulling the plug and what happened to Trump in January.

  15. r says:

    News is just a “loss-leader” for FB.
    What we really need to watch is the advertising confidence of all OZ businesses who pay FB.
    Would you invest your advertising budget in FB after this?
    I’ll bet lots of IT departments are saying “I told you so” to their management right now.
    They might just get back some funds for better development of their own site.

  16. JohnJJJ says:

    Lutz
    #3761381, posted on February 19, 2021 at 12:23 pm
    Another portal must be established as we cannot live on with the arbitrary and totally biased censorship of FB, TW IG and so on

    Fortunately, Lutz, I can announce that I am starting a new one called OffYerFacebook. But you can only join when you’re well and truly pissed.

  17. Judge Dredd says:

    Really, who cares if the enemy and the enemy are losing out (Facebook and the MSM).
    Get off Facebook already and stop consuming the media.
    It really is fascinating how this inconsequential story is driving so many Cat posts.

  18. Mike Ryan says:

    Publishers need Facebook more than Facebook needs them

    MySpace. anyone?

  19. Biota says:

    What is this Facebook thing being talked about?

  20. Snoopy says:

    Where’s the graph showing the fall in traffic to paywalled sites only?

  21. Jock says:

    Just a thought, but can I ask what IS NOT news on farcebook? If I put up a post to me family saying I have just made a cake, then that must be news. Anything put up that was not known to the friends previously has to be news!! Terrific . Zuck should just shut it all down.

  22. Spurgeon Monkfish III says:

    I had a spacechook account for about four months in 2010 before shutting it down in disgust shortly before the 2010 federal election.

    I haven’t missed it for a second since and along with twatter, I would happily have both of them shut down as of yesterday if possible, for the reasons Cassie cited above.

    Spacechook and twatter are inexcusable online sewers that purvey an unending cavalcade of collectivist excrement and zuckerberg and dorsey are two of the most loathsome individuals to have existed in human history.

    Stop using their platforms.

  23. areff says:

    Loving it.

    Like the Iran-Iraq war, as Kissinger put it, it’s a pity both sides can’t lose.

  24. C.L. says:

    Well, Facebook argued that the “value exchange” between itself and publishers “runs in favour of the publishers” and I think that’s right.

    However… it is a confusing stand-off.

    Sinclair, can you clarify your stance (again): what is the problem with a news outfit charging for product? Is it the mandating of such an arrangement by the state that irks?

  25. Snoopy says:

    Lefty news sites such as news.com, TheirABC, The Grauniad, The (one way) Conversation and Renew Economy worst hit. What’s not to like?

  26. JMH says:

    If Farcebook edits, censors and “fact-checks” as the do, then by definition, they are a publisher, are they not? In that case, they should pay for news derived from other news publications.

  27. C.L. says:

    To the journalists who may be laid off: there are exciting possibilities in the solar panel construction field according to John Kerry. You can still make a difference.

  28. JMH says:

    To the journalists who may be laid off: there are exciting possibilities in the solar panel construction field according to John Kerry. You can still make a difference.

    Learning to code might also be beneficial!

  29. incoherent rambler says:

    You know how far we have fallen when we are not worth fighting and they must fight amongst themselves.

  30. Baa Humbug says:

    I support the MSM fasists and the Fed Govt, so long as this legislation has a knock on effect and other countries do the same to help smash the SocMed fascists.
    I support the SocMed fascists, so long as this stand off destroys the MSM fascists.

    I support the destruction of this government for wanting to steal from one fascist private company, to give to another fascist private company.

    MAD is the way to go. Buy popcorn.

  31. Sinclair Davidson says:

    what is the problem with a news outfit charging for product?

    Nothing – I have subscriptions to many media outlets; The Australian, AFR, News, The Times, WSJ, and the (UK) Telegraph.

    Facebook and Google direct eyeballs to the legacy media – for free – the legacy media then have the opportunity to convert the free eyeballs into paying customers. Strictly the legacy media should pay Facebook and Google a finders fee.

    The legacy media, however, convinced the government to impose a tax on the tech firms AND the direct the revenue to the self-same legacy media. That is pure crony capitalism.

    Google has been rolling out a new product called News Showcase that would provide access to legacy media content and have, quite rightly, been negotiating with (some) legacy media companies for content. Up until a backflip last week the Australian government had been suggesting that this would not satisfy the local legislation requirements. So Google are happy now – the government caved to their demands (face-saving all around).

  32. Baa Humbug says:

    I support the MSM fascists and the Fed Govt, so long as this legislation has a knock on effect and other countries do the same to help smash the SocMed fascists.

    I support the SocMed fascists, so long as this stand off destroys the MSM fascists.

    I support the destruction of this government for wanting to steal from one fascist private company, to give to another fascist private company.

    MAD is the way to go. Buy popcorn.

  33. harrys on the boat says:

    With the Lad here. Sinc’s argument seems Facebook are a private entity so can do what they like. But why shouldn’t publishers be asked to be paid for content? Especially as that freak Zuckerberg has stated that news content (I assume the advertising linked to news content) accounts for only 4% of FB revenue.

    This seems another Turnbull moment for Davidson.

  34. C.L. says:

    Thanks, Sinclair.

    Yes, the legacy media, meanwhile, claim that they’re boosting eyeballs for FB.
    That’s clearly bullshit.
    Old media was – is – dying and this is being ginned up to bolster their revenue stream.

    Harry, yes – Zuckerberg is an asshole and an enemy of freedom but it would be a stretch to say FB has been driving the policy lunacy in this country. The political left and the ABC were doing that long before anybody heard of him.

    What the Morrison government should really prioritise is making ABC aficionados pay for their beloved platform via subscription.

  35. Cassie of Sydney says:

    “What the Morrison government should really prioritise is making ABC aficionados pay for their beloved platform via subscription.”

    No argument there.

  36. twostix says:

    The exact same people and organisations that have made a platform out of driving their enemies off of social media and the Internet have suddenly been cutoff themselves and are howling about it being unfair.

    It is too delicious to not love it a little bit.

  37. Leigh Lowe says:

    harrys on the boat

    #3761448, posted on February 19, 2021 at 1:58 pm

    With the Lad here. Sinc’s argument seems Facebook are a private entity so can do what they like. But why shouldn’t publishers be asked to be paid for content?

    The key word.
    “Asked”.
    They were asked to pay, and declined the invitation.
    They then correctly removed those media sites from their platform to avoid any accusation of mis-appropriating “valuable content”.
    The market working as it should.

  38. twostix says:

    If Facebook is somehow stealing media content, shouldn’t the media be happy they’re no longer doing it?

    But more than that, and the reason for the uproar, is the establishment class they know that the very moment that the average person isn’t seeing their political narrative utterly dominating the feed anymore, with the space cleared for others (or none), political opinions will shift back to normal rapidly.

    That is the urgency. They’re pushers of a political drug, FB users, endlessly scrolling, reacting, outraging, addicts – literally in many cases, just had to go cold turkey.

  39. twostix says:

    It was said here yesterday that many many people who have absolutely zero interest in politics at all are having heavily curated propagandized political “news” narratives rammed down their throats in their feeds to the detriment of us all.

    It’s obvious why. And it’s better for everyone if it stops.

  40. Diogenes says:

    The graph shows what you would expect, if you tutrn the tap off, of course the flow through THAT tap will reduce. Anybody seen any published traffic figurez foe any of the media sites?

  41. Snoopy says:

    twostix
    #3761474, posted on February 19, 2021 at 3:05 pm

    If Facebook is somehow stealing media content, shouldn’t the media be happy they’re no longer doing it?

    The ones who are screaming the loudest are the media sites which give away their leftist content (not uncommonly funded directly or indirectly by taxpayers) for free.

    For example, The Conversation:

    The Conversation is a great news site. But, for the most part, people don’t read it like a newspaper. Instead, articles on specialised topics are shared with other people. One way is via Facebook.

    Too bad, so sad.

  42. Slayer of Memes says:

    That there appears to be such a huge number of people who get their news from Facebook (or worse, Twitter) indicates to me just how far society has fallen…

  43. Colonel Crispin Berka says:

    Lookin’ everywhere `cause I had to find news,
    Paying’s not the way that I remember it here.
    Anyone will tell you it’s News Limited’s island,
    hidden by Zuckerberg from a million shares.

    Great Southern Land,
    put Murdoch in black.

  44. PB says:

    Given the nature of the everyday punter that glances at Facebook, Yahoo, Google etc for headlines it will be interesting to see if free-to-air TV News gets a boost from this. More likely though no-one will get a much of a boost as I’m sure many will just say “arrfuggem”.

  45. Squirrel says:

    If that graph could be replicated for all social media usage, not just “news”, the productivity boost to the Strayan economy might give us a glimmer of a chance of managing the debt which has been run up over the last year.

  46. Petros says:

    Dumb question sorry: if someone clicks on a news story in Facebook and it is at a paywalled site, do they not have to pay the usual subscription fee?

  47. notafan says:

    Tgs i only use messenger too

    Great for fam video conferencing

  48. Mick Gold Coast QLD says:

    From Colonel Crispin Berka at 3:41 pm:

    “Lookin’ everywhere `cause I had to find news,
    Paying’s not the way that I remember it here.
    Anyone will tell you it’s News Limited’s island,
    hidden by Zuckerberg from a million shares.

    Great Southern Land,
    put Murdoch in black.”

    So clear … so sensible … really helpful … barely literate

  49. Tel says:

    If Facebook and Google are forced to pay for links … then Murdoch and Fairfax are the winners!

    If Facebook and Google are forced to curtail links inside Australia and thus get effectively kicked out of the entire news business when then … Murdoch and Fairfax are the winners!

    Either way they will be ever so grateful to the government that saved their business. They would say anything … anything … at the next election to return the favour.

  50. Petros says:

    Yes but, Tel, the left are seldom pleased with anything the conservatives do, let alone grateful. ScoMo needs to string this along until after the next election.

  51. yarpos says:

    any context at all? what are FB referrals as a % of total referrals? what else is now increasing?

    its a bit like saying “renewables” growth is massive! off a base of what? what % of total energy delivered is now “renewables” Same BS numbers game , different topic

  52. mundi says:

    Exactly…

    The news companies won’t say. One was on ABC saying it was “significant but not life threatening”.

    The more they complain about the block, the more obvious it is that they should be paying facebook.

  53. Rabbi Putin says:

    Facebook is an immoral organisation and I don’t know why Australians let it dominate their lives so much. Laziness I suppose.

    I left fb years ago, my life actually improved and i learned who were my real friends and who were my fake ones.

  54. Mark A says:

    yarpos
    #3761676, posted on February 19, 2021 at 8:18 pm

    any context at all? what are FB referrals as a % of total referrals? what else is now increasing?

    its a bit like saying “renewables” growth is massive! off a base of what? what % of total energy delivered is now “renewables” Same BS numbers game , different topic

    I don’t understand this at all. I never saw a referral to any Australian news organisation on my FB page.

    I think all the peeps who are up in arms about FB are using it differently to most of us.
    I keep it for family and for about 10 close friends, that’s all. Never had any problems with ads or unwanted intrusion.

    If you use it as a substitute contact with the real world you get what you pay for.

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