Some are hopeful that Facebook’s changes, while painful, could convince publishers that shallow traffic from a social network is no replacement for real engagement with passionate audiences.
In any case, some publishers say recently they have seen smaller and smaller returns from the social network, either in traffic terms or in revenue terms. And in order to achieve the same kind of reach they had before, some are resorting to paying for their content to be promoted. That’s a win for Facebook, and a loss for cash-strapped media companies.
While it may be better in the long term for digital natives to rely less on Facebook-generated traffic and advertising revenue, the reality is that many of them are already in that situation, and extricating themselves from it isn’t going to be easy.
Moving from an advertising-focused model to one that relies on reader subscriptions may be the prudent move, but getting from point A to point B could be difficult, and some companies may not be able to make the transition. For them, Facebook’s latest algorithm could be what Mother Jones Senior Editor Ben Dreyfuss called “an extinction-level event.”