Media Briefing: Here’s what publishers want to see on Threads

This Media Briefing covers the latest in media trends for Digiday+ members and is distributed over email every Thursday at 10 a.m. ET. More from the series →

This week’s Media Briefing looks at what features publishers want from Threads, as they test Meta’s new social platform as an engagement and traffic referral source.

  • Publishers’ wish list for Threads
  • Vice Media Group gets new ownership, Meta blocks news in Canada

Publishers’ wish list for Threads

Nearly a month into the debut of Meta’s social media platform Threads, publishers are testing engagement on the platform with different content formats and topics.

But the lack of deep analytics on these types of posts are holding publishers back from diving in fully — and reporting back to advertisers.

It’s not easy to strategize for a platform when it’s nearly impossible to measure how well the current strategy is performing. For now, publishers only have likes and replies on their Threads posts to measure engagement.

“The more analytics we have, the more informed decisions we can make,” said Waiss Aramesh, director of social media at Rolling Stone.

“Being able to analyze post performance will allow us to create a content strategy that aligns with what we know our audience would like to engage with and cut content that is not resonating,” added Wesley Bonner, head of social and audience development at Bustle Digital Group.

Granted, new social media platforms tend to launch with bare bone features. Some publishers who spoke to Digiday said they wanted search functions to look for keywords and hashtags, trending topics for content creation and the ability to directly message followers — all of which are features reportedly coming in future updates, according to a pitch deck Meta sent advertisers on Threads.

Below is a wish list of what publishers want from Threads in future updates, based on conversations with publishing execs and managers at BDG, Betches Media, Cosmopolitan, The Hollywood Reporter and Rolling Stone:

Analytics on impressions

All five publishers told Digiday they need better analytics on their posts’ performance to understand what’s resonating with users on Threads, and what’s not. Kate Ward, chief content officer at Betches Media, said a dashboard similar to Threads’ sister site, Instagram, would give them better insights.

BDG’s social team wants to see post impressions versus engagements, video views and completions, Bonner said.

Rosa Heyman, Cosmopolitan’s executive digital editor, said she also wants to see the number of views a text, image and video post gets.

Aramesh said his team at Rolling Stone is “flying blind” right now.

“I can’t even tell you how many people have seen our posts or have a reasonable gauge of how well a post [has] done beyond the bare bones metric of ‘likes,’” he said.

Ryan Fish, The Hollywood Reporter’s social media manager, said his team focuses on growing referrals to THR’s website from social media platforms, but “we currently have zero insight about [this] on Threads. We need to know what types of content are working there for our specific KPIs before we can implement a full-scale strategy,” he said.

Quote posts

Publishers want to be able to see who is reposting their Threads posts to continue conversations with users on the platform.

“I don’t know what people are saying about our posts, unless they reply directly to us or I see it out in the wild,” Fish added.

Desktop and scheduling options

Ward wants Threads to offer a desktop option for Threads. It’s especially tricky to switch between accounts on the app, which currently requires logging out to do so.

“The only way to post on Threads right now is to do so manually from your phone. This is tedious for social media editors, who are often juggling several platforms at once,” Heyman said. “There’d probably be a lot more adoption from brands if we could access an easy-to-use publishing and scheduling tool.”

Scheduling posts would also be a valuable tool to publishers to post on the weekend, Ladbible’s Instagram & TikTok lead Rebecca Tyrell told Digiday.

Edit button

The fact that Threads is only available on the app also can lead to mistakes in posts, Fish said. The ability to edit posts would mean publishers wouldn’t have to delete posts if there was an error and lose all the engagement on that post, he said. X (formerly Twitter) allows subscribed publishers to now edit posts on its platform — at $8 a month.

What we’ve heard

“Everything [on Threads] is kind of an organic play, which may make sense for a certain advertiser, but probably not something we’ll package and productize until next year.”

—  Wesley Bonner, svp of social and audience development at Bustle Digital Group, on the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast

Numbers to know

$350 million: The amount Vice Media Group’s former lenders are paying to acquire the bankrupt company.

3: The number of top editorial managers leaving Vice Media Group.

11: The number of weekly or semi-weekly Hispanic newspapers in the U.S. in 2022 with reported circulation data, down from 18 in 2021.

$100 million: The amount Cox Enterprises plans to invest in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

$1 million: The amount The Ankler has earned each from its subscription business and its ad business.

What we’ve covered

Half of publishers upped their marketing spend in the last year, but slower spending is ahead:

  • Half of the 35 publisher professionals surveyed in a Digiday+ Research report increased marketing spend in the last year.
  • However, when asked what they expect to increase the most in the next 12 months, only 17% of publishers surveyed said they expect marketing spending to increase.

Learn more about publishers’ marketing spending here.

How generative AI has shown up in earnings chatter again this quarter:

  • Generative AI is still a hot topic in earnings calls as companies race to roll out or integrate AI-powered products and services into their businesses.
  • Meta, Microsoft, Alphabet, Snap, Adobe and Omnicom all brought up the topic of generative AI in their Q2 earnings calls.

Read more about companies’ plans for generative AI here.

WTF is prompt engineering?:

  • Prompt engineering — also sometimes referred to as prompt design or prompt construction — is the main way to communicate with a large language model (LLM) and has become a new internal task for publishers developing chatbots and quizzes.
  • Prompts are used to instruct and control the model, by describing the task that it should perform and what it should generate as its output, using natural, human language.

Learn more about prompt engineering here.

Why some publishers don’t think Apple’s iOS17 update will impact their link tracking in newsletters:

  • When Apple announced its forthcoming iOS17 update would have new privacy and security features, some publishers were initially concerned that it would impact their ability to measure engagement rates.
  • However, those fears — at least according to three publishers that have built their businesses around newsletters — have since abated.

Read more about the update’s impact on newsletter businesses here.

Publishers optimistic about the future:

  • Publishers expect that revenue will increase in the next 12 months, according to a Digiday+ Research survey of 35 publisher professionals.
  • That’s despite the fact that more than a third of publishers (38%) said their overall revenue decreased significantly or somewhat in the past 12 months, and only slightly less than a third (32%) said their companies haven’t invested at all in overall staffing.

Learn more about publishers’ revenue expectations – and how this will impact their hiring plans – here

What we’re reading

Meta is blocking news content on Facebook and Instagram in Canada:

In a few weeks’ time, Canadians will not be able to see or post news content on Facebook or Instagram, and news organizations — even international ones — will have their content blocked, due to a new law in Canada requiring big tech companies like Google and Meta to pay media outlets for news content they share on their platforms, according to CBC.

Fox is sunsetting its sports-betting site:

Fox is closing Fox Bet this month, after the digital sports-betting site failed to grow, The Wall Street Journal reported. It attracted just 1% of the online sports-betting market, while its competition — FanDuel and DraftKings — hold more than 70% of that market.

The Guardian updates its editorial code to address AI:

The Guardian has updated its editorial code, offering new guidance on artificial intelligence, among other updates, according to a post by Elisabeth Ribbans, the Guardian and Observer’s global readers’ editor. The 32-page document instructs Guardian journalists not to use any material created using generative AI without permission, calling it “not reliable or consistent.”

WBD wants to invest in startup media companies:

Warner Bros Discovery is looking to invest in startup media companies focused on fandoms and digital experiences built for them, as well as those using emerging technology for production, Deadline reported. Companies that have already raised at least $500,000 are eligible for the new accelerator program, called Collider On The Lot.

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