Facebook is reportedly in secret discussions with news organizations to host their content on its platform, offering them a revenue-sharing proposal to make money from advertisements posted alongside their content.
Soon, users could possibly be seeing news content from the New York Times, National Geographic, and BuzzFeed if an agreement is reached. Anonymous sources bound by non-disclosure agreements tell the New York Times that Facebook users could be seeing content from these media outlets "in the next several months," although it is possible that more organizations will jump into the partnership as the discussions are still ongoing. Quartz and The Huffington Post are reportedly also being wooed by Facebook.
One of Facebook's long-running goals is to constantly improve user experience, particularly on mobile, which is currently Facebook's biggest source of advertising revenue. When users see a news article posted on Facebook, they have to click on a link that takes them outside of the platform to the news outlet's website, a process that Facebook says takes around eight seconds to load, which is too much for the inattentive Internet user.
Edward Kim, CEO of analytics and distribution company SimpleReach, says even small increases in a website's speed improves the user's experience, but he admits that Facebook hosting news content on its platform could bring significant changes to how news organizations deliver their content.
"It really comes down to how Facebook structures this, and how they can ensure this is a win on both sides," Kim says.
The New York Times says news outlets are wary of having their content hosted on Facebook because of the loss of control over certain reader information that is available to them when readers consume their content on their own websites. Moreover, having news content hosted on Facebook could mean fewer visitors to their own platforms in the long run. Some media companies hosting video on their own websites have reported a drop in traffic coming from Facebook after it introduced video in its own platform.
But in its effort to convince news organizations, Facebook is reportedly offering to run a single ad in a custom format placed next to the article and share the advertising revenue with the media outlet. Facebook has been recently experimenting with ad revenue-sharing models, such as the Verizon-sponsored NFL video clips that showed an ad for Verizon in the end where Facebook and the NFL split the revenue.
Newspaper consultant Alan D. Mutter says if such a partnership materializes, Facebook will stand to gain everything as hosting news articles on its site will improve user experience and increase ad dollars. News outlets, on the other hand, will likely have to be flexible enough to get their content out of their platform. However, Mutter acknowledges that it's a "scary proposition" to give up control of their brand to Facebook.
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