As Marcus Wohlsen writes over at Wired, Facebook has deposed lesser homepages and ascended to the throne of online content royalty, thus opening itself up to a whole lot of ad revenue. The site has become the internet’s biggest hub for content-driven web traffic (for example, most of Big Think’s pageviews arrive via links on our Facebook page) and Wohlsen wonders whether we’ve only just seen the tip of the iceberg:
“Given that links appear to be more clickable when shared on Facebook, online publishers have scrambled to become savvy gamers of Facebook’s News Feed, seeking to divine the secret rules that push some stories higher than others. But all this genuflection at the altar of Facebook’s algorithms may be but a prelude to a more fundamental shift in how content is produced, shared, and consumed online. Instead of going to all this trouble to get people to click a link on Facebook that takes them somewhere else, the future of Internet content may be a world in which no video, article, or cat GIF gallery lives outside of Facebook at all.“
Wohlsen references David Carr’s New York Times piece from earlier this week about how Facebook has offered to collaborate with various publishers by hosting their content on-site. These publishers are hesitant to trust the social media juggernaut but Wohlsen believes they may not long have a choice.
(Note: Another relevant read on this topic is Ravi Somaiya’s piece from the same publication about how Facebook has changed the face of online journalism.)
Now that Facebook has mastered mobile ad revenue while other sites have struggled, there may soon come a time where much of the content you access via Facebook will all be hosted on Facebook. We’re already seeing Mark Zuckerberg’s push to include more content within the site itself. The relatively new trending topics sidebar is an example, as well as how the mythical algorithm favors on-site content such as Facebook-hosted videos over those hosted by competitors such as YouTube, which is owned by Google.
If only a few popular sites decide to give in to Facebook’s offer, Zuckerberg could ignite a major ad revenue war. Hosted content would be heavily promoted while links to off-site publishers would be buried, thus tanking the latter’s ad revenue. Wohlsen makes the perceptive point that search-giant Google has a vested interest in making sure content stays on the web while Facebook would rather have users do all their surfing on-site. Such a conflict between two of the tech world’s most powerful companies makes Batman vs. Superman look like a schoolyard scuffle.
Take a look at the entire piece, linked again below, and let us know what you think.
Read more at Wired