Media buyers say Facebook remains attractive to advertisers, but publishers identify risk

Facebook’s decision to remove news from local and international mastheads and Australian users raises the question of whether a news feed without media produced news is still an attractive proposition to advertisers, but media buyers remain unconvinced the announcement weakens the platform’s commercial value.

However, Guardian Australia’s managing director, Dan Stinton, urged advertisers to “ask themselves whether they want to be associated with a platform that trades in disinformation and refuses to engage in regulation from the democratically elected Australian Government”.

“Advertisers have always struggled to know whether their ads are being placed besides fake news or high quality journalism on Facebook,” Stinton told Mumbrella.

Stinton has asked advertisers to consider issues of brand safety

“Now they know for certain they definitely won’t be appearing next to high quality journalism, but questions about what their brands are appearing besides most certainly remain.”

Nine added that: “Nobody benefits from this decision as Facebook will now be a platform for misinformation to rapidly spread without balance.”

Facebook’s managing director Will Easton confirmed in a blog post early this morning – published after the News Media Bargaining Code was passed by the House of Representatives last night – that links to local news sites cannot be posted on the platform, and users in Australia will not be able to share or view any news, including links from international news websites.

Chris-Walton CEO Nunn Media


Thinkerbell’s Ben Shepherd was adamant that “removing news will have no impact on Facebook, its usage or its value to advertisers”, and Chris Walton, the managing director of Nunn Media, was also unconvinced.

“Marginally, perhaps? Whilst many people say they find out their news from Facebook, I question the extent to which this is a key driver of people going there and is more of a bi-product of a visit,” he said.

“Could it be that the big mastheads who have significant traffic delivered to their sites from Facebook are about to lose a big chunk of audience? I suppose this will become evident in the coming weeks and months. Maybe these people will simply find their way there by other means?”

Walton said the bigger question was which Facebook pages the platform identified as ‘news’. So far, satirical websites such as Betoota Advocate and the Bureau of Meteorology’s Facebook pages, among others, have also been stripped of content.

Havas Media’s CEO, Virginia Hyland, noted that “the risk for Facebook is if consumers, in enough numbers, feel that the sense of community that Facebook provides has been compromised”.

“Key for advertisers is Facebook’s ability to deliver engaged audiences at scale, clearly something that will be closely monitored over the next few months,” she added.


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