‘Media and marketing renaissance’ predicted following Facebook news removal

Yesterday’s decision from Facebook to remove news from local and international outlets will have a trickle down effect beyond the publishing industry, PR and social specialists have said. With the public relations industry so closely tied to publishing and the impact Facebook’s move will have on earned media, some have voiced support for smaller publishers while calling out the “arrogance” of larger publishers.

Magnum & Co managing partner, Carl Moggridge, said a “media and marketing renaissance” could be on the horizon, improving the quality of news content and the creativity driving brand activations on social media.

“The fact some, mostly big, publishers want digital platforms to not only subsidise their journalism, but also get access to data and algorithm changes is the height of arrogance. It’s important to remember audiences, revenue and advertising dollars have been moving away from them for decades. Way before Facebook was even a thing,” Moggridge told Mumbrella.

Magnum & Co’s Carl Moggridge

“That said, I’m not drinking the Facebook Kool Aid. As a company that is complicit in the propagation of fake news, misinformation and the polarisation of society – mostly helped by news from a few big media publishers – this could be an amazing thing. A media and marketing renaissance, right here in Australia.

“Imagine a world where all publishers created quality content and not just click bait that aims to manipulate the very algorithms they want access to. Where media publishers innovated in both content and distribution, leading to a new generation of people that are actually willing to pay for it. Imagine if marketers were also innovative. With 68% of all ad spend in Australia being spent on Facebook and Google, brands might actually be forced to do things that change things and not just serve lower funnel ads.”

Zeroing in on the PR practice, Access PR’s Andrea Kerekes, asks “will this affect where the PR industry pitches potential editorial”, given publishers’ presence on social media is a significant consideration in approaching mastheads for coverage.

“Publishers’ Facebook pages in particular are high on the target list for pitching in all types of client-related editorial content – raw video or images, for example,” she explained.

“Securing coverage here, as well as being able to leverage coverage through sharing, can be a major win for any client. No sharing means less eyeballs which means lower results if mass awareness is an objective. Same for targeted and more niche B2B clients.

“So is the PR industry looking at a new reality where we need to focus on Google-affiliated publishers for better results to report back to clients? Will this become a part of briefs, given our clients need to report back to their business with the best results? This is a slightly terrifying scenario, both professionally and personally.”

Access PR’s Andrea Kerekes

Also a result of change, Kerekes predicted a shift in focus for brands to owned channels and “increase in PR agencies creating branded content and an even greater shift to owned channels being news and information hubs.”

Sam Kelly, chief strategy officer at Hello Social, noted: “Short term this will have little impact on brands and our campaigns however the stickiness of Facebook, our favourite window to the world, may fall away over time with a less diverse content mix.”

Matt Holmes Mumbrella CommsCon Conference 2018

Poem’s Matt Holmes

Matt Holmes, co-founder of Poem – which stands for paid, owned and earned media – had a similar take as Kerekes on what this will mean for brands, noting the agency has been “long advocating for our clients to act more like publishers themselves and believe that now more than ever our principles of creating omni-channel campaigns across paid, owned and earned media are important.

“Perhaps now is also the time for other social platforms to make their moves to become more informative platforms for news, at its core Twitter was always best as a real-time newsfeed for example.”

Red Havas’ executive director of social, Amaury Treguer, also suggested a rise of other social and content sharing platforms, including Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, and a change in publishers’ approaches to them.

He also pointed to a potential rise in syndication platforms Outbrain, Taboola and Teads as brands reconsider partnerships with publishers.

“Marketers will have to be extremely careful about the way they are going to share any type of ‘news’ content and be more dependent on brand storytelling and ‘advertainment’ to push their messages out,” Treguer said.

“This will prove once again the importance of having a strong social presence and a clever paid media strategy.”

Red Havas’ Amaury Treguer

However, Treguer questioned Facebook’s commitment to the ban and whether it is “a short term act… to apply pressure on the government”. Moggridge was of a similar mindset, predicting “in the next six months the news media bargaining code will be watered down to only include payment to publishers. Facebook will turn news back on. Media publishers will continue to struggle and go back to creating content that drives traffic that sells advertising.”


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