Viral publishers see sharp engagement drops on Facebook
LittleThings shut down after Facebook’s algorithm change cut its organic reach by 75 percent, but it’s not the only social publisher that’s in danger, data from several analytics firms suggests.
Publishers such as Viral Thread, ViralNova, 9gag, Bored Panda, Diply and Distractify have all seen interactions — likes, shares, comments and other reactions — slide precipitously since Facebook announced in January that it would deprioritize publisher content in its news feed, according to Facebook-owned CrowdTangle.
That drop implies Facebook has limited their reach on its platform, bad news for publishers that depend heavily on Facebook for referral traffic, according to data from internet analytics firm Jumpshot. Distractify, for example, saw its monthly traffic decline 78 percent year over year in January and 84 percent year over year in February, with most of the declines attributable to declines in Facebook referral traffic.
Some of these sites are more dependent on Facebook than others — just 12 percent of 9gag’s desktop traffic comes from Facebook, compared to 85 percent for Viral Thread, according to SimilarWeb data. But regardless of how dependent they are, it seems that Facebook sees less value in showing that kind of content to its user base.
“Publishers who had a heavy reliance on gaming Facebook news feed algorithms circa 2016-2017 will be hurting bad right now,” said Matt Navarra, director of social media at The Next Web. “Those publishers who failed to diversify their social platform distribution model or went all-in on Facebook will be regretting it in 2018.”
The declines are just part of a slide that publishers have been riding for over a year. While Facebook prioritized native video and Instant Articles, publisher referral traffic from Facebook declined substantially. In late 2017, Google surpassed Facebook as the top source of publisher referral traffic, leading some search-focused publishers to gloat.
But the severity of these drops varies. The interaction rate on 9gag’s posts fell 50 percent month over month from January to February, according to CrowdTangle data; Viral Thread’s interaction rate fell 32 percent, the second-largest decline month over month, over the past 12 months, according to CrowdTangle data. Neither publisher responded to a request for comment.
In the days following Facebook’s announcement that its users would see 20 percent fewer posts from publishers’ pages in their news feeds, publishers speculated about who would be affected most.
Nearly two months later, the effects are hitting some publishers harder than others. LittleThings was forced to shut its doors, while other publishers have had mild to negligible changes to their referral traffic.
“It’s no surprise the impact on some publishers is minor, whilst for others, it’s utterly devastating,” Navarra said. “We shouldn’t forget Facebook’s push on ‘meaningful engagement.’ Some publishers will be struggling to generate it if their mix of content is not adaptable enough to bend to [Mark Zuckerberg’s] latest desire to drive ‘meaningful interactions.’”
Bustle Digital Group, G/O Media cut staff
Bustle Digital Group announced the layoffs of a dozen staffers on Friday, including the entirety of The Outline’s staff, and pay cuts for some remaining employees.
‘Companies are in freeze mode’: Coronavirus crisis strains ad tech licensing model
Like so many other industries, the coronavirus crisis is rapidly separating the distance between the haves and the have nots in the software-as-a-service sector. In ad tech in particular, there was a rush in the middle of the last decade for companies to switch their models from charging clients a percentage of the media they […]
Member ExclusiveAs the DTC reckoning accelerates, founders turn to each other for advice and sanity
"The coronavirus outbreak notwithstanding, there were a lot of issues that were spread out through the rest of the DTC ecosystem going into the first-quarter of this year," said Jeremy Cai, founder of Italic, which sells luxury bedding, apparel and handbags. "I feel like we are settling into a new normal in many ways of being conservative," he said.
SponsoredPublishers are experimenting with more engagement models
A growing number of publishers are using registration walls, paywalls and metered models to collect first-party user data and drive subscription revenue.
Advertisers ‘don’t want to sound tone deaf’: Candid thoughts of publishers navigating crisis
Publishers gathered virtually to discuss the challenges they're facing within their businesses and what their strategies are for weathering the storm.
Member Exclusive‘Math doesn’t add up’: Publishers still face tough choices
“Just salary cuts will at most bring the costs down by 10%, at most, I can guarantee,” one exec messaged me.