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Catching the Consumerís Attention in an Online World

Recent deals between Facebook and major media publishers have drawn attention to consumers’ ever-growing use of online media. In order to be seen, publications have to go digital.

Recently, news that Facebook was signing with major media groups had the publishing world in a tizzy. With the New York Times, Buzzfeed, the BBC, The Guardian and other heavy hitters agreeing to post articles straight to Facebook through its “Instant Articles” product, pundits worried that control over news distribution would end up solely in the hands of Facebook.

FB promises that its format, with its super-speedy loading time, is better suited than publishers’ websites for mobile phones. This might be true, but does this mean that people will start to get all their news from Facebook and disregard the traditional outlets?

Several weeks into the new experiment, all signs point to overblown concern. To start with, many publishers appreciate the efforts that Facebook has made to placate them. When readers open an article appearing on Instant Articles, the clicks are counted in the original publisher’s analytics, so it’s considered as if their readers have gone directly to their own sites. As an added plus, when links to Instant Articles are shared, the recipient of the link is directed back to the publisher’s site.

Additionally, despite all the hoopla, FB’s partners have scarcely taken advantage of their newest “publisher.” Three weeks into the deal, five of the nine media outlets have shared one Instant Article each, and the other four have shared none. Making an inroad into traditional news publishing won’t happen overnight, it turns out.

Media Hounds

The idea of giving news to FB users dovetails nicely with the findings of a new survey. Publicis’ ZenithOptimedia unit found that people spend ever-increasing time each day consuming media. In 2015, they are expected to spend around 492 minutes daily interacting with media. Shockingly, the average person spends half of his or her waking life immersed in media!

This exaggerated amount is largely due, of course, to mobile computing. That means that as media use grows, the proportion of time allotted to traditional media shrinks. Therefore, posting news articles online or on social media gives them a much better shot at being read.

Bookish Aspirations

The 2014 Digital Publishing Survey, produced by DCL and Bowker, confirms that book people are also caving in to the eventuality of an online readership. Almost 84 percent of authors and publishers indicated plans to publish online.

With increasing demands for all types of reading materials to show up on mobile devices, few publishers or authors can resist going digital. Consumers bring along devices wherever they go, so for maximum exposure to readers, electronic formatting is a must.

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For the past five years, Gilan Gertz has researched and written on a variety of topics for GreenPoint Global's publishing, health-care, and online education divisions. Previously, she worked as a psychotherapist in outpatient settings. Gilan has a B.A. from Barnard College and a Master of Social Work from Yeshiva University.

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