At the virtual Asian Media Leaders eSummit 2021, Anajali Kapoor, Facebook’s Director for News Partnership-APAC, said the technology company acknowledges news business models have changed, and will build products and services that help publishers engage audiences and impact subscriptions.
“It used to be top of the funnel reach and referral kind of traffic. But today, we’re trying to support business value by helping [them] connect with audiences and driving [them] down through the funnel,” said Kapoor.
When developing new products or iterating existing ones, Kapoor explained Facebook tries to relate to the changing nature of digital transformation that is happening across the media industry.
The platform company will focus on five main areas that it feels will help publishers’ engagement, subscription and retention efforts in the coming future.
The first is the recently announced Voices, a publishing tool that will be released in the US in the next few months that will enable independent writers to create content and email newsletters.
The second is to continue to improve Instant Articles, Facebook’s tool for publishers to create quick-load articles. Kapoor said the company saw more than 5,700 publishers start to use or rejoin the product in 2020.
Coupled with Account Linking, a product that was launched in 2020 which allows publishers to seamlessly connect subscribers to their system via the Facebook account, Kapoor believes this “helps with [publishers’] retention strategies.”
Another area is video. In this space, Facebook says it continues to look at ways to help broadcasters and publishers monetise various video formats, including live streams and short- and long-form clips.
“We continue to test a paid online events tool, and we think there are opportunities there to think about how we can help creators and larger organisations host events and monetise them,” Kapoor said.
The fourth area is augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), which Facebook believes will evolve into a “compelling storytelling tool” for journalists to create “immersive experiences” for audiences.
“Ten years ago, the [AR/VR] technology did not map with the user experience. But now, being able to see some of these on your Facebook News feed is exciting,” said Kapoor, who was hesitant to reveal too many details at this stage.
The fifth area is training programmes related to the Facebook Journalism Project. The technology firm said it has, since 2018, invested US$600 million in the global news industry, and will invest an additional US$1 billion over the next three years.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Facebook has invested US$2 million to support news publishers during the COVID-19 pandemic through direct grants and training, including WAN-IFRA’s inaugural six-month long Newsroom and Business Transformation Asia (NBTA) programme in 2020 and another upcoming run beginning in July 2021.
“We are thinking about ways to support the long-term sustainability of the news businesses, not just on our platform, but building programs that help newsrooms get to that next step in digital transformation,” said Kapoor.
APAC news media companies planning to launch their first paid-content initiative soon are invited to apply now for the five-month NBTA online executive programme in 2021.
Two leaders per company – one in editorial and one in a business/commercial role – will be guided and coached by programme leads, Gregor Waller and George Brock, to design and prepare go-live transformative projects for their own companies. For more details, visit https://tinyurl.com/nbta2021