Consumption of news dropped immediately after Facebook’s ban: Nielsen

Data compiled by Nielsen shows that Facebook’s ban on news content in Australia had an immediate impact on publishers yesterday (18 February), with several metrics for audience measurement in immediate decline compared to the past six weeks.

Nielsen used its Digital Content Ratings methodology – which provides data each month on traffic volumes for tagged websites and apps regardless of the source being on or off-platform – to track total sessions and total time spent for the Current Events & Global News category yesterday.

Total Sessions for the category fell by 16.1% on 18 February, when compared with the average of the previous six Thursdays. Meanwhile, Total Time Spent was down by 13% versus the average of the past six Thursdays.

Nielsen also looked at how Australian tagged media publishers in the news and information category had their content consumed during 2020, and found that on average, 22% of their audiences consumed their content exclusively via the Facebook app.

Facebook’s announcement that it would restrict publishers and people from sharing local and international news came early on Thursday morning. The tech giant cited the News Media Bargaining Code as the direct reason why it had made its decision.

Australia and New Zealand managing director, Will Easton, said the current state of the code left the platform with “a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia.

“With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter.”

Publishers including Nine, The Guardian Australia, the ABC, and Junkee responded swiftly to the announcement, with Nine calling the decision “unreasonable behaviour”, while Junkee said it was “disappointed”.

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was equally critical, and also revealed that Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg did not warn him of the decision in advance despite a long phone call with the tech giant’s founder.

“Facebook was wrong. Facebook’s actions were unnecessary, they were heavy handed, and they will damage its reputation here in Australia,” he said.

Multiple media buyers have told Mumbrella that Facebook remains an attractive proposition for advertisers, with several unconvinced of the potential impact for marketers.


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