According to The Wall Street Journal, publishers such as National Geographic, The New York Times and BuzzFeed have been asked by Facebook to host their news and videos on Facebook through Facebook’s Instant Articles initiative.
This is designed to keep the social network’s users engaged and eliminate any performance issues associated with sending them to the websites of popular third party content providers.
Revenue generated by ads Facebook sells would be split 70-30, with the bulk of the revenue going to publishers.
It’s not clear how much of the ad inventory publishers would be allowed to fill on their own. Ostensibly, Facebook will want access to at least some portion of the inventory.
Still a raw deal?
Not surprisingly, Facebook’s past behavior has left publishers skeptical of the company’s latest initiative for numerous reasons.
In particular, publishers, some of which receive well over half of their referral traffic from Facebook, have frequently struggled with changes Facebook has made to its algorithm.
Will the ability to keep all of the ad revenue they generate from Facebook’s new initiative cause them to overlook the things that led them to be skeptical in the first place?
While time will tell, it’s important for publishers to consider that ad revenue is just one part of the equation. In allowing Facebook to publish their content, they’ll ostensibly lose some control over user experience.
It’s also unclear how Facebook plans to address the issue of reader data, or if it plans to address this at all.
Instant Articles also raises possible SEO concerns. Will Facebook apply the canonical meta tag to pages that host publisher content?
How will publishers deal with the possibility that many of the links to their articles could eventually point to Facebook and not their own websites? These are questions for which wise publishers will demand answers.