From John Herrman’s “Media Websites Battle Faltering Ad Revenue and Traffic” in the New York Times:
But now, there is a realization that something more profound has happened: The transition from an Internet of websites to an Internet of mobile apps and social platforms, and Facebook in particular, is no longer coming — it is here.
It is a systemic change that is leaving many publishers unsure of how they will make money.
Facebook’s users seem to be following Mr. [Mark] Zuckerberg’s lead. NewsWhip, which tracks how publishers are performing across major Internet platforms, says the rate at which links to outside websites are shared on Facebook, compared with videos and Instant Articles, has declined.
Facebook’s algorithm determines what posts users see. And you can’t share a post if you can’t see it. It’s quite likely that, by design, Facebook’s algorithm serves up more videos and Instant Articles than links to external websites. So of course those forms of content get shared more often.
Facebook needs media outlets though, both for their advertising dollars and the content they pump into its ecosystem. Publishers should refuse to advertise or post until Facebook agrees to tweak its algorithm to put their content in front of more users. (Of course this approach requires media companies to work together.)