In a Media Briefing newsletter Chris Sutcliffe wrote:
Tuesday’s changes to Facebook’s News Feed algorithm caused a panic among publishers who fear that they could find themselves left outside in the cold, as famously happened to Upworthy back in 2013. And in the current climate, where social referrals are worth their weight in gold and central to digital publishing strategies, the outside is very frigid indeed. So exactly why has Facebook tweaked its News Feed, and what does that tell us about its own strategy?
Writing for Stratechery, Ben Thompson argues that the tweaks indicate Facebook’s endgame is to be the “homepage of the internet”. By, as he says, prioritising content from friends rather than news, the social giant could put itself in a position to hoover up the majority of the increasing digital ad spend that’s inbound over the next few years, and to “capture, almost completely, the imminent wave of advertising dollars deserting TV for digital”. Essentially, Facebook’s 2013 changes to prioritise news were a lure, and it’s now sprung the trap on publishers who now can’t do without it
His analysis was published on the same day that Quartz published an article entitled “The unstoppable rise of social media as a source for news”. The author, John McDuling, breaks down how integral each generation consider the various news platforms (television, newspapers, radio etc.) to which they have access. Unsurprisingly, younger Millennials far and away consider social media an indispensable news source, possibly as a result of the 2013 changes. And with Millennials and publishers now firmly on the hook, it’s further evidence that Thompson’s argument that Facebook is in a position to steal TV ad spend is worth taking seriously.