Best of the week: Local publishers warm up to the duopoly as Facebook errs again
This week’s top stories covered Facebook’s latest misstep, the duopoly’s relationship with local publishers and more. As always, a full list of the stories appears at the bottom.
Facebook draws fresh ire
In the middle of upfronts, Facebook announced yet another measurement error. This time, the platform miscalculated how often users clicked through its carousel ad units. Facebook claims just 0.04 percent of its ad impressions were affected.
The duopoly courts local publishers
Discontent doesn’t characterize everyone’s relationship with Facebook. The platform and Google are having a bit of a honeymoon period with local news publishers.
The duopoly has attempted to strengthen bonds with local publishers in the past year. Google doubled the number of trainers for local newsrooms that it funds through a Society of Professional Journalists partnership and has planned a similar program with Poynter. The Facebook Journalism Project has involved a local listening tour to U.S. cities. Both platforms have a more regular presence at local news association gatherings.
“We are having a little bit of a moment in that all the big platforms have woken up to the power of local,” Patch CEO Warren St. John said.
Of course, this isn’t pure goodwill. A healthy local news ecosystem is in the duopoly’s best interest. The platforms could change their priorities anytime. Stay tuned: This relationship could take a dysfunctional turn.
Publishers explore ways to diversify revenue
With the duopoly swallowing most of the ad dollars, more publishers are pursuing alternatives to advertising to make money. Here’s what three are trying:
Condé Nast’s subscription boxes: The company is expanding the box model it developed with Allure to its other titles. In June, GQ will debut a grooming box, becoming the fourth title to start a box in the past year. The upside: Boxes can help shore up print circulation, drive e-commerce revenue and deepen relationships with advertisers and other marketing partners.
Sun Bets: U.K. publisher The Sun is betting on bookmaking, building its own bookmakers last August. Within six months, Sun Bets amassed hundreds of thousands of customers and earned News UK revenue.
To encourage betting through its platform, Sun Bets has produced videos for fantasy football and horse racing events like Cheltenham Festival. The publisher said it experienced “a highly significant increase” in its average weekly run rate during Cheltenham.
BI Insiders: Business Insider is adding a 15,000-person proprietary research panel, BI Insiders, to BI Intelligence, the research unit it formed in 2013 to get direct revenue from readers. In three years, BI Intelligence has garnered 7,500 subscribers. The panel’s addition bumps the subscription cost from $2,500 to $3,000. (Institutional, enterprise-level accounts cost up to $150,000.)
BI will query the panel, which contains millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers, to further research efforts. One recent example occurred when BI used the Insiders to gauge their trust in a variety of platforms following a spate of stories about advertisers worrying about platforms’ brand safety. Most of the information gleaned ended up in a subscribers-only report less than a week later.
“People talk about breaking news,” said Barbara Peng, BI Intelligence’s vp of research. “We’re able to break data.”
Good takes elsewhere:
- Poynter’s Benjamin Mullin reports that publishers are leaving Medium after it shifted away from digital advertising.
- New York magazine’s Molly Fischer examines how Slack has changed the workplace.
This week’s top Digiday stories:
- Ad buyers rate Facebook’s 10 measurement errors
- Local news outlets find an unlikely ally in the duopoly
- Condé Nast sees commerce opportunities in branded subscription boxes
- The Sun’s business model bet: bookmaking
- Business Insider now has a 40-person research group and 7,500 subscribers
- How YouTube latecomer Vox beat the odds and built a big channel
- How Coca-Cola targeted ads based on people’s Facebook, Instagram photos
- A marketer’s guide to the tricks and hacks of influencers
- Publishers are using Facebook video to drive commerce revenue
- Trump fatigue? The good times for politics publishers are over
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