Meta Pulls Support for Australian Publishers

Meta Pulls Support for Australian Publishers

Meta's decision to cease payments to Australian news publishers marks a significant change in the technology giant's approach to the news industry. For over a year, Meta maintained agreements with Australian outlets after intense negotiations with the government led to a temporary news ban on Facebook. However, usage trends on the platform have shifted substantially.

Data shows engagement with Facebook News dropped a dramatic 80% over the past year as users increasingly favored short-form entertaining content like Reels over links to longer news articles. With less than 3% of what people see in their Facebook feeds now coming from news links and clips, Meta's leadership no longer feels the need to subsidize publishers through payment arrangements. They see news as a minor part of the overall experience on their platforms.

This change in stance is partly a reaction to regulations like Australia's News Media Bargaining Code, which aimed to mandate "fair payments" from Meta to publishers. But it also acknowledges the reality of changing user habits as people spend less time with in-depth journalism and more time browsing casually for entertainment and light information on platforms optimized for that type of casual, passive content consumption.

While the loss of referral traffic from Meta's platforms will undoubtedly hurt publishers still reliant on social shares, the company's data shows they can survive and even thrive without news links as demonstrated by continued user growth in regions like Canada where they no longer show publisher content. For Meta, short videos have become the dominant and highly engaging format, with Reels alone driving the majority of usage increases.

So what does this transition mean for Australian media companies? Some argue regulations backfired by prompting Meta's withdrawal from payment deals and further distancing from news content. But others see a need to curb the outsized influence of dominant platforms and ensure the sustainability of high-cost investigative journalism. Now Australian authorities face a choice - attempt forcing Meta's hand through enforcement despite its changing business priorities, or accept a media landscape with less referral traffic from social networks.

For publishers, the focus must shift towards engaging audiences directly and leveraging other platforms still open to news content like Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok where new discussion and video formats may find more success than shared links did on Facebook. Independent outlets also have an opportunity to fill informational needs local communities have that are no longer met by legacy partners withdrawing payments.

Overall, this ongoing industry shift highlights the importance of diversification for all players. Media companies need to adapt strategies and content to align with shifting user preferences, whether they agree with the direction of those changes or not. As Meta and other major platforms continue moving investment away from subsidizing publishers, utilizing an SMM panel like the experts at Great SMM can help brands and media outlets adjust their approaches.

Our SMM panel analyzes in-depth audience and engagement data to develop targeted social media campaigns leveraging the hottest emerging formats. We help clients boost visibility and drive readers to their own websites and applications and off platform payment systems. Contact the SMM experts at Great SMM today to learn how our unique services can support your business as the digital media landscape continues to evolve rapidly. Knowing your audience and being nimble in strategy will be key for all players moving forward.

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