Facebook Live Contracts, Bloomberg’s Cross-Platform Sales Strategy, Study on Platform Publishing, Tactics to Combat Ad Blockers, TFP’s June Book Picks, InDesign CC Tip: InDesign CC 2015.4 Release Notes

Welcome to Technology for Publishing’s roundup of news and tips for media industry pros! This week, we’re sharing stories about the value of contracts with publishers contributing to Facebook’s live video service, Bloomberg’s success with training ad sales staff to sell cross-platform, a Tow Center study on how media companies are adapting in the platform age, how publishers are getting some value from ad blocker users, and more.

WSJ Ramsey photo

  • Looking to cash in on the booming video business, Facebook has signed deals with about 140 media companies and celebrities to create content for its live-streaming service, Facebook Live, according to The Wall Street Journal. The value of those contracts so far stands at $50 million, it said, noting the social platform’s aim is to encourage contributors to produce a steady volume of video until it figures out an advertising revenue share model to compensate them. On board are big news outlets like CNN and The New York Times, as well as digital publishers such as BuzzFeed, Vox, Tastemade, Mashable, and The Huffington Post. Comedian Kevin Hart, chef Gordon Ramsay (pictured), wellness guru Deepak Chopra, and NFL quarterback Russell Wilson are some of the celebrities who have signed on. While Facebook acknowledged earlier that it would be compensating contributing publishers, this latest report reveals specific partners and what they’re being paid. According to a document the Journal reviewed, BuzzFeed is currently the highest paid media company, raking in $3.05 million to live stream between March 2016 and March 2017.
  • Bloomberg Media announced its digital ad sales went up 15% in the past five months, with video and custom advertising boosting its results. Citing “global reach, multiple platforms, and high-quality journalism,” the company said ad sales overall are up 11% over the same period. But it’s not just quality content and multiplatform distribution driving its success, it told Adweek. Also key to this growth is a shift in business strategy: Bloomberg is now training its sales force to sell cross-platform instead of maintaining dedicated teams for each channel. “We’ve done something very unique in how we’ve tied together all of our platforms into a very distinct multiplatform advertising proposition with custom content at the core,” CEO Justin Smith said in the article. “In a time of disruption, realizing across-the-board revenue growth across multiple platforms and multiple geographies is a really outstanding result.”
  • On the topic of platform publishing, the Columbia Journalism Review reported on Tow Center research examining how news outlets are adapting to the rapid rise of tech companies in publishing. In just 18 months, it noted, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat have become powerful publishers “by default,” with the volume of content being published directly to social sites and messaging apps exploding, though little is known about what the long-term outcome might be for both publishers and consumers. Among the many concerns the study surfaced is the question of who owns the reader or viewer—the platform or the publisher? Lack of control, data, and transparency play into publishers’ anxieties as well, along with fear of brand dilution and uncertain financial returns. See the Tow Center’s video “Digital News in a Distributed Environment” for more discussion.
  • And finally, with the rise of ad blockers, publishers are increasingly turning to tactics that allow them to gain at least some value from users who don’t want to pay to view content—one of which is to obtain their email address through prompts and social media logins. “It’s saying, ‘If you’re not going to look at ads, then give us a data point that identifies you as a specific individual and we’ll be able to track you in a specific way—what kind of content you consume, viewing patterns, and cross-device tracking,’” Dorian Benkoil, founder of consultancy Teeming Media, told Digiday. For example, The Washington Post now asks non-paying readers to enter their email address if they want to continue viewing content on its site and then automatically signs them up for its email newsletter. However, while the practice is seen as giving users a choice, a pitfall is that some will just leave a site if prompted to enter personal information, the article said.

On the Technology for Publishing Blog

This Week in Publishing will be on hiatus next week in observance of the July 4 holiday. We’ll be back on Friday, July 8. Have a wonderful holiday, everyone!

Photo: Omar Vega/Invision/Associated Press on WSJ site

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Posted by: Monica Sambataro

Monica Sambataro is a contributing editor and copyeditor for Technology for Publishing. Her publishing background includes work for leading technology- and business-related magazines and websites.