Digital is a fast-moving and evolving medium. The Quint has the benefit of being a new entrant, and hence, has no legacy issues. The whole concept of giving one’s content to a third party like Facebook is misplaced because social media is the biggest distribution channel today. At Quint, our social media desk is our distribution desk. It is no longer about advertisers having a different view; it is an inevitable process, and they will eventually have to accept it. It is no longer about readers coming to you or your product, it is about your brand and content travelling, and the brand loyalty being built by being where the audience is. Moreover, being on these platforms helps you understand as a publisher, what kind of content is being shared or read the most.
AJ Christopher, national head, marketing, Eenadu Newspaper
Content is content, irrespective of the language. If the news is getting disseminated through a medium, it does not matter to the reader where the news is coming from. As a publisher, if I’m not on Instant Articles, then my brand is not getting connected with the Facebook ecosystem. I would like to be there to reach out to those who spend a lot of time on Facebook and who are Eenadu’s potential readers. They will be happy to read the content from a source that they trust.
Nikhil Pahwa, founder, Medianama
Instant Articles is a service that inserts itself in between the direct relationship between a publisher and a reader; you will have access to the data that Facebook will provide you, but it will always have access to more than you do.
What publishers will be left with is a situation wherein their advertising will have shifted significantly to Facebook, which will take a cut of it and will be in a position to tweak visibility of content and charge for greater visibility – which is exactly what it did with brand pages. Publishers have to sell their own advertising on the platform, of which they pay 30 per cent to Facebook, and they have no control over advertising formats. The sizes are determined by Facebook, and no rich media ads are allowed.
Vinny Ganju, COO, Catch News
There are four key concerns with Instant Articles. The first one is restriction on the publisher to offer web brand experience and news packaging within the Facebook environment. There is no brand connect for the reader within third party platform. Publishers cannot accumulate traffic as seamless as their own URL ARPU (average revenue per user) from Facebook will be lesser than what they can generate by landing readers on their website or mobile site. There is no point for publishers in sharing revenue on their own content.
Instant Article definitely has utility for readers, but many colleagues from the industry consider this as a bane. And, why is that so? Facebook restraints publishers to offer their brand experience and content packaging. Moreover, traffic allocation is not very clear though Facebook and that has given scope to incorporate comScore and other traffic metrics that publishers follow. ARPU will drastically dip as more and more readers continue to experience publisher brand content within Facebook environment with no brand connect and loyalty to the news brand. This was the reason that saw many news publishers pull out from the News Hunt app. Although the app offered a lot of content utility, and hence, drove good readership and engagement, but within their own environment, which resulted in traffic and revenue dip for publishers.
The bottom line is that publishers will have to collaborate and innovate with these platforms to ensure their brand experience and reach, but with a more integrated approach which does not directly impact traffic and revenues, but instead opens up new avenues of advertising and revenue channels.