Six months in, Facebook News remains a question mark to publishers

Digiday 11 May 2020 04:01
May 11, 2020 by Max Willens

Publishers who are used to seeing Facebook launch a new product with much fanfare, then have momentum fizzle, are starting to get a familiar feeling.

Six months after a glitzy launch announcement, Facebook News is still not available to all U.S. users as a tab, and has only been available to all U.S. users in the bookmark section of the app since April. A Facebook spokesperson said that “millions” of people use the News tab today, but would not be more specific. And sources at seven different publishers in the tab say that there is not much to get excited about yet as Facebook continues to tinker with the product.

And while Facebook has begun taking some tentative steps to promote News, mostly using editorial collections of stories around major events sourced from News participants called news digests, Facebook ads that will promote News are not going to be rolled out until later in the year.

The checks that Facebook cut to many of the largest publishers participating in News buy Facebook time to experiment, in ways that an ad-powered revenue-sharing program wouldn’t have. And sources at many participating publishers say that Facebook was careful to stress that it would take its time with Facebook News.

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