Publishers’ Traffic Has Gone Down A Lot So Facebook Is Testing A Tool To Improve Reach

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Written by Ann Brown

 

Facebook is really trying hard to entice new publishers–keep them happy. And now the social media giant thinks it has just the thing to satisfy news publishers and get them to stick with Facebook.

According to Digiday, “Facebook has been testing a tool with five publishers including BuzzFeed to help them improve their reach on the platform.” The tool is very hands-on for the publishers as it allows them to test up to four versions of a piece of content, with “variations in elements like headline, description and image, in real time — something publishers would otherwise have to pay for by boosting a post.” The tool also provides the publishers with data that shows interactions and click-through rates, and predictions of those metrics in real time which lets the publishers to select the best-performing version to show all its followers.

This latest move by Facebook is part of an effort to keep publishers using the platform, as over the last year Facebook has been on the losing end compared to other online platforms when it comes to keeping the traffic up for publishers.

“Facebook has been lavishing a lot of attention on news publishers over the past year or so. It’s created a breaking-news tag so that they can put on stories to help them stand out in the news feed, and it’s testing a subscription tool to help paywalled publishers, cracking down on fake news and paying publishers to create news shows for its video section, Watch,” Digiday reported.

Publishers haven’t been too keen on other moves made by Facebook as of late. The company upset many publishers by “deprioritizing publisher content in the news feed and by creating a political-ad-labeling policy that treated promoted news articles as political content,” Digiday reported.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 10, 2018, about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

 

“This tool is a way to maximize how they pitch their content to people on Facebook,” Vandor said. “Instead of us saying, ‘Here’s a list of universal best practices,’ we’re trying to give publishers the tools they can use to develop their own best practices.” Asked how much of a difference she thinks the tool could make, Mollie Vandor, a Facebook product manager under Alex Hardiman, head of news products, told Digiday: “My hope is that this tool gives publishers a better sense of control and ability to make the best possible use of their investment in Facebook. Ideally, this tool is flexible, easy to use and is a value add.”

Facebook has reasons to be worried about its relationship with publishers. In 2017 Google was actually sending more traffic than Facebook to publishers. In fact, Facebook sent 25 percent less traffic to publishers that year, while Google boosted its traffic by 17 percent, according to Parse.ly.