What Do The Facebook Newsfeed Changes Mean For Us?

The macro effects of Facebook’s recent newsfeed change have been widely reported in the past week, but what does it mean on a local level? We’ll explore the early consequences for both publishers & brands.

It’s important to state upfront that Facebook tweaks its algorithm continually and that the full effects may take weeks or months to land.   

Implications for Publishers

The primary victim of the algorithm tweak appears to be publishers and this will resonate in the Irish market as well. The jist of it, is that Facebook’s algorithm will be serving less news content into feeds and that organic reach (which is already at low levels) will decline further. Facebook’s relationship with publishers is complicated, at its best Facebook has provided an invaluable source of traffic for web based publishers and in turn publishers have helped turn Facebook into a rich newsfeed with an endless supply of content.

This scenario has not worked out for either party, Facebook have faced scrutiny on the highest levels for creating an “echo chamber” and divisive news distribution (see: American election & Brexit) whilst publishers have become too comfortable with the free traffic that Facebook has been delivering.

We anticipate that in the Irish market many of our indigenous web based publisher’s will now have to ramp up efforts and diversify to better serve content to audiences. Ultimately Facebook will continue to play some sort of role in their own distribution mix but monetising Facebook looks set to become significantly more difficult.

Implications for Brands

When it comes to brands, organic reach has been averaging at the 2% level for a couple of years now, any drop further won’t really matter as it is already redundant. The initial fear is that paid inventory will increase in price. Looking at a CPM basis Facebook is already cheap comparative to the rest of the market, due to the high level of inventory. A decrease in inventory could lead to a slight increase in price, however advertisers should welcome less clutter on the platform and if it comes at a CPM increase of 10-20%, then that seems like a fair trade off.

What’s Next?

When Facebook initially opened to advertising it was largely a community network where an individual interacted with friends and family. Over the past couple of years it’s moved to a rapid fire newsfeed with its content largely comprising of video be it from brands / publishers or users. 2018 is already proving to be a new adventure as the platform is striving to return to its origins. To win on Facebook we have to continue to adapt not just to the platform but how it’s used by its audience. And even while Facebook undergoes transition, its reach figures remain consistent so it will continue to play a key role in media plans.

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