‘It is harder to differentiate in the platforms’: Publishers want more data, monetization options from Facebook, Google and Apple

Publishers gathered this week at the Digiday Publishing Summit in Key Biscayne, Florida, where the challenges of making money on distributed platforms was a hot topic. Facebook Instant Articles, Google AMP and Apple News offer alluring reach, but publishers said they want the platforms to provide more data, better subscription options and greater flexibility in how articles and ads can be designed within the platforms. Here are the main takeaways.

Michael Finnegan, president of Atlantic Media
I’d like to see more data sharing for the purposes of subscription conversion. [Platforms] are starting to weigh into those areas, but they are very possessive of their data, and that is difficult for publishers who want to maintain direct relationships.

Roy Schwartz, president of Axios
The evolution of the news on platforms has to have a filter for the worthiness of the information. We want a direct relationship with these platforms to feature content that is worthy of people’s time, attention and trust.

On Apple, you can connect with their editorial department and tell them you just put out a piece of news that is the definitive item on that subject matter. On Facebook, you just push content out, but you can’t highlight information, and it is all controlled by the algorithm.

We also don’t do Instant Articles, and we don’t do AMP because there is no easy way to put our short-form native ads on them.

Meghan Muntean, vp of commerce and revenue development, Bustle Digital Group
Just because the article loads however many seconds faster is not worth the trade-off with limited ad opportunities on Instant Articles. There has been a limit to the number of ad units that can be on a page, and they’ve had certain rules around length and types of content that can go on IA. That’s been a challenge. It’s something they’re responding to by making some changes — and we’re going to test it again — but we’ll see if it works.

Scott Cherkin, evp of product and business development at Complex Networks
[Google AMP and Facebook Instant Articles] are great user experiences, but you are limited to what units you can run on these pages. AMP has more flexibility [with ad formats], but you want the ability to tailor your ads and not be stuck with a 300 x 250 unit.

When you come to our site, we have a different ad package than our competitors, and it is harder to differentiate in the platforms. I want the ability to manipulate the page and have more control on when and where we place an ad.

Sahil Patel contributed reporting


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