tech

Australian news sites' traffic falls after Facebook blocks content -Chartbeat

10 Comments
By Elizabeth Culliford and Sheila Dang

Total web traffic to Australian news sites dropped by around 13% after Facebook Inc blocked their content on the social media platform this week, according to early data that underscores the outsize impact the U.S. company has on the local market.

The data from New York-based analytics firm Chartbeat showed that a pickup in traffic to news sites from Google was outweighed by a significant slump in traffic from Facebook.

"Unfortunately, Facebook's disappearance has resulted in a hit to publishers' traffic numbers: when Facebook traffic dropped off, overall Australian traffic did not shift to other platforms," a Chartbeat spokeswoman said.

The Chartbeat data, which compared both domestic and foreign traffic to around 250 Australian news publishers on Wednesday before the ban to Thursday, provides some of the first tangible evidence of the impact of Facebook's move.

The social media giant on Wednesday barred users from sharing or reading news from Australian publishers on its platform in protest of a looming law that will force it and Alphabet Inc's Google to pay publishers for content.

Google and Facebook had campaigned together against the laws, which are expected to be passed by parliament within days, and both threatened to cancel services in Australia. Google, however, sealed pre-emptive deals with several media outlets in recent days.

Total traffic to the Australian news sites from various platforms used outside the country fell by about 30%, the Chartbeat data showed.

Chartbeat said that the percentage of traffic in Australia to the news sites from Google Search rose from around 26% on the day before the ban to about 34% afterward, while traffic from Facebook fell from around 21% to about 2%.

The analytics firm said that it counts Australian Broadcasting Corp and Australian Community Media among the publishers it works with, but could not say if any specific publishers were included in this data.

The Chartbeat data also found that the percentage of traffic to news sites coming from Facebook outside of Australia fell from around 30% to about 4%, while Google Search grew from around 38% to about 52%.

The Chartbeat spokeswoman said foreign readership of Australian news sites is driven heavily by Facebook, with historical data showing around 15% of visits to Australian publishers being driven by Facebook compared to 12% of visits to publishers globally.

A 2020 University of Canberra study found 21% of Australians use social media as their primary news source and 39% of the population uses Facebook to receive news.

© Thomson Reuters 2021.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

10 Comments
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Well don't bite the hand that supplies you with a free business page and access to all their members.

Like I said before not a fan of Facebook no personal page, but I sure use their Free business page for my business, wouldn't pay for it but free the business it does generate is always welcome.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Good thing the sites can still be searched thru google.

But when the law is passed, the media companies that have not reached an agreement with google will probably be cut off from the search engine as well, else google would have to pay them.

Approaches of the two big tech are different but the ends will probably be similar, media companies have to strike an agreement with them or be totally cut off

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Good going government. Probably going to hurt a lot more news services than help them.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"when Facebook traffic dropped off, overall Australian traffic did not shift to other platforms," a Chartbeat spokeswoman said.

So? It is possible to get news right from the source.

When a proper alternative makes itself known then people will use that instead.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Good going government. Probably going to hurt a lot more news services than help them.

Probably ok in case of FB but small companies could be really hurt with being cut off from google.

Some posters before said that in France's case a lot of small news services weren't able to reach an agreement with google.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

When a proper alternative makes itself known then people will use that instead.

And how will they let themselves be known?

With Google? No because it will not be worth Google's time to make deals with the little guys as someone has already pointed out is happening in France.

You know this is a bad idea for independent news outlets when one of the biggest proponents is Rupert Murdock.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Let's be real, as a small business owner Google is of very little use as the bigger businesses and pay options make it near impossible for the little guys to show up in searches.

FB is different, my business page has followers (also linked to my business instagram) so new info I post gets reposted and forwarded by FB users that follow me.

This is the same for news services especially the independent small guys, their followers repost, tell friends which go to the services FB page then if they are interested in the full article go to the services website via the links.

This generates traffic and the service makes advertising money.

FB doesn't charge to have a business page so a win win for the smaller news outlets.

Now the big guys like Rupert Murdoch the extra traffic is not significant but the fact this helps the little guys is what bothers him and other big outlets.

This is why he is so much for this new law as it will only benefit the big guys that can make the deals and leave the little guys with nothing.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Australia gave the US Fox News ... so I don't think we are even yet.

I hope this pay-for-content takes off around the world and that FB blocks everyone. Then people can get back to living their real lives, away from a screen and having real interactions, in person.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

For clarity I don't use Facebook, don't really like it and because I have no Facebook account I can't look at any businesses Facebook page. I cannot say I'm a fan of most of the news outlets either. However these results make an argument that maybe these news outlets should be paying Facebook and not the other way around. I suspect the politicians in Australia and many other nations are not perceptive enough to see this however as they are blinded by an inchoate hatred of all things tech and not really understanding how these businesses work will bulldoze forward with stupidity. Then they will stomp their feet and whinge like little children when the tech world shuts down much of the social media they think they are protecting because the business costs and risks are just too great.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

these results make an argument that maybe these news outlets should be paying Facebook and not the other way around.

You're making an argument from the results of a single day's metrics after Facebook made an unannounced move entirely disrupting the current method of news distribution? Bit premature innit? I mean, if it had been three days, well that would clearly be enough time to come up with a conclusive determination of the entire lay of this very complex game. But only one day? Hmm...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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