Ashwini GangalPublished: 24 Oct 2017, 12:00 AM
Digital

Should publishers be scared of Facebook?

A panel of experts spoke about coping with changing algorithms, at Digipub World.

As the session moderator - Diksha Madhok, former editor, Quartz India and newly appointed digital director at ThePrint.in - put it, "it's basically about whether publishers are scared of Facebook and Google or not." A quick look at what the panelists said, about the changing world of algorithms they cope with everyday, especially in the context of video, at Digipub World.

Should publishers be scared of Facebook?

The Panel
Click here to enlarge

Vinay Singhal, co-founder and CEO of WittyFeed

Should publishers be scared of Facebook?

Vinay SinghalShould publishers be scared of Facebook? Yes, I think we should be. Every single publisher, across the board, depends on Facebook for 60-70 per cent of their referral traffic. So by default they (Facebook) have a large (degree) of control over us. But at the end of the day, their (Facebook) shops run because we put up our content on their platform... and if they keep changing things and are not aligned with us as publishers then they will also have a problem in the long run. So the way to navigate this is - stay within the policy guidelines, create relevant content... and the end game for Facebook or Google is making sure people spend more time on their platforms; if you help them do that, they will love you.

While I agree (content) seeding plays a big role, it's really not us who will decide what kind of format (of content) will be consumed.

On Google, the consumer has to be hungry and has to come and look for it... and you (publishers, content creators) have to be available. On Facebook, you have more control... you can create the hunger; a person has to be interested in you just once and after that you can keep nudging him/her.

Prasad Sanyal, group editor - digital, Zee Media

Should publishers be scared of Facebook?

Prasad SanyalAs publishers, as content proprietors, we are responsible for changing consumer behaviour, to an extent. People ask for more videos because we are giving them more videos. People will consume whatever you give them. In my last profile as editor at The Times of India (dot com), there was a standard thing where somebody would say, 'This story is doing brilliantly...' and that story was the lead story on the Times of India homepage. With so much direct traffic, of course that story was doing great... you're playing it up. So if as publishers we keep doing and promoting videos then yes people will start consuming videos.

While Facebook isn't compelling us, it is pushing us - by giving publishers minimum guarantees for videos, by encouraging publishers to put videos on their platform... Facebook is pushing us.

Venkatesh Channaraj, chief business officer, HolidayIQ

Should publishers be scared of Facebook?

Venkatesh ChannarajHow does one keep up with changing algorithms? Our three-pronged strategy is - automate, choose formats cleverly and choose formats that can be automated easily; videos and images are formats that you can automate easily. Part of adapting to the changing algorithm is to not think you know the audience but actually use a test-and-iterate approach. We see ourselves producing 10,000 pieces of content everyday; and that's not going to happen through content writers... people are not reading much today. The world is turning visual, in terms of images and videos; Facebook seems to have that conviction too. We are investing in video formats.

You need to be present on Facebook to manifest latent intent... Facebook is more fun creatively, if you want to try new things. Google is a little more straightforward... and they favour big brands, according to us.

One of the big things that could shift underneath us is the regulatory framework. That could quickly change everything, overnight. That's something we constantly worry about.

Bharanidharan Viswanathan, CEO and founder, 91mobiles.com

Should publishers be scared of Facebook?

Bharanidharan ViswanathanThere are pros and cons to both platforms (Google, Facebook). We are confident and comfortable with cracking Google. We have understood Google very well. The algorithm is fairly clear. On Google, the results are fairly stable and predictable... but they take time.

There are multiple challenges when it comes to cracking Facebook. Facebook is very opaque; they don't tell you why they're changing what they're changing... and how often they will change (their algorithms). The second problem with Facebook is that you have to produce (content) daily... the life of content on Facebook is short. But on Facebook, unlike Google, you see results instantly.