We launched the Facebook Journalism Project in January. Today we want to share an update about what we've heard from our partners and a recap of our work together over the past six months.
Our work is focused around the three pillars of the Facebook Journalism Project:
• Collaborative development of news products
• Training and tools for journalists
• Training and tools for an informed community
1) Collaborative development of news products
Since launching the Facebook Journalism Project, we've met with 2,600 publishers around the globe to create a dialogue around how they use our products and how we could make improvements to better support publishers' needs. We're also making efforts to better explain how our products, like News Feed and Instant Articles, work so that publishers understand how to get more value from them.
Instant Articles Improvements
We introduced a number of updates for Instant Articles based on ongoing conversations and helpful feedback from partners including:
• Call to Action buttons for email sign-ups and Page Likes to encourage reader loyalty and new testing for a Free Trial and Mobile App Install CTA. Year to date, we've seen over 2 million email sign ups resulting from Call to Action units in Instant Articles, with a current rate of over 25k per day across all publishers on Instant Articles.
• The ability to support simultaneous publishing on Google AMP and soon Apple News through the Instant Articles SDK.
• Improved ads monetization opportunities with more flexible ad density.
• New ads in the Related Articles section of stories.
Instant Articles now pays out more than $1 million per day to publishers via Facebook Audience Network, and in the last 6 months, RPMs from Facebook Audience Network in Instant Articles have increased by over 50%. We're excited by this momentum and will continue to invest in Instant Articles: over 10,000 publishers around the world use Instant Articles, growing over 25% in the last six months alone. More than a third of all clicks to articles on Facebook are now to Instant Articles.
Subscriptions in Instant Articles
We are beginning to build a tool to support subscriptions within Instant Articles and plan to start testing with a small group of partners later this year. Our partners consistently identified support for subscription business models as a top priority, and we made it a priority for our teams as well. Subscriptions are not a one-size-fits-all model, and we have been working closely with several partners around the world to determine what a potential solution might look like.
Like any new product, we'll have to refine it over time to make sure the product works for both people and publishers on Facebook. We’ll continue to listen and welcome feedback from our partners over the coming months.
Ads in Videos
We announced that all eligible publishers can now make money from in-stream video ads on their own websites and apps through Audience Network. We began testing Ad Breaks in on-demand videos on Facebook in the U.S., expanding to nine countries over the course of the half. We hope to expand the test to additional partners as we learn and improve. We also began testing Ad Breaks in livestreams broadcast through the Live API with partners and third-party encoders.
We made improvements to Rights Manager, a tool that can help publishers manage and protect their videos on Facebook. Rights Manager is now easier to use and allows publishers to set automated rules to act on matches.
We made three updates for publishers and creators who post and share branded content, based on feedback we received: we enabled more Pages to share branded content on Facebook, simplified our policy and enforcement guidelines, and updated the branded content tag to include the word ‘Paid’ in the post. In response to additional partner feedback, we are also running tests with a small number of publishers focused on branded content that is not editorially influenced by sponsors. As part of this test, we're exploring alternatives to the current 'with' tag and 'Paid' label.
Our work on local news is still nascent, but we know that local news is the starting place for great journalism. We've met with dozens of local newsrooms across the world to understand how we can best help and, in the U.S., we have begun testing new ways to help people discover local news on Facebook.
A Closer Look at How We Work Together
One of the biggest changes we've made through the Facebook Journalism Project is how we work together with our news partners. Deep collaboration with publishers is a critical tenant of our product development process, and we've learned that we need a tailored approach. Here are a few of the ways we're actively engaging with publishers to provide more transparency and better align with our product development cycles:
• Executive Roundtables: We are regularly convening a group of leaders from a diverse set of news organizations in both the U.S. and Europe to provide guidance and share feedback.
• New Product Development: We are bringing Facebook and publisher engineers together in two ways: working groups and 1:1 meetings.
• Product Iteration: We are organizing publisher workshops to identify and act on opportunities to improve current products, like Instant Articles.
• Hackathons: In the first half of 2017 we hosted four Facebook Journalism Project Hackathons in the U.S., U.K., France, and Germany where hundreds of people from news organizations gathered with Facebook engineers to prototype and create solutions important to the news industry. This remains a great source of creativity and collaboration.
2) Tools and Training for Journalists
In the last six months, we hosted 15 News Days — all-day product training, feedback sessions, partners showcases and 1:1 help desks for local journalists and audience, business, and newsroom leads — in Dallas, Atlanta, Denver, Chicago, Seattle, San Diego, Delhi, Hyderabad, Manchester, Milan, Edinburgh, Manila, Jakarta, Mexico City and Buenos Aires. We're planning to host another 15 in the next six months.
Our team participated in 71 media industry events — leading keynotes and workshops or joining panels at 50 of them, sponsoring 36, and providing help desk support at approximately 15.
In addition, we established several training programs and launched new tools to help journalists on Facebook.
We announced a pilot project that delivers Facebook training and support to local and non-profit news organizations in the U.S. through a partnership with the Knight Foundation, The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, Detroit Journalism Cooperative, and Montclair State University’s Center for Cooperative Media.
Data and Insights
Since acquiring CrowdTangle, we made it free for publishers and journalism schools to help give partners the data and insights they need. In the first half of this year, CrowdTangle onboarded over 1,600 new partners around. Moreover, overall usage of the tool tripled, the platform is growing quickly in emerging markets like India and Brazil and is now being used in over 1,000 local newsrooms.
In addition to increasing the overall adoption across the news and publishing industry, CrowdTangle launched several major product updates to the tool including:
• CrowdTangle Intelligence designed to give publishers a quick way to look at long-term trends across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Reddit.
• A partnership with Reddit to give publishers an easy way to monitor important stories breaking on Reddit, as well as track communities and discussions relevant to their work.
• Finally, we heard that publishers wanted more insight into how their videos were performing, especially in relation to others in the industry, so CrowdTangleadded Facebook and Instagram video view metrics.
We are building and testing new insights that enable publishers to see audience consumption trends that cut across Facebook and their owned and operated properties.
New Training Programs and Tools
Facebook for Journalists Certificate
We expanded our series of e-learning courses on Facebook products, tools, and services for journalists to 10 languages and launched the Facebook for Journalists Certificate, a three-course curriculum designed by the Poynter Institute and Facebook.
Facebook Safety for Journalists
In June we announced Facebook Safety for Journalists and introduced a dedicated page on our Facebook for Journalists website to provide resources designed specifically to help journalists protect their accounts and themselves on Facebook.
Partnered with First Draft Network
We increased our commitment to the non-profit First Draft Network and helped them establish a virtual verification community, among other initiatives.
3) Tools and Training for an informed community
We introduced product enhancements and launched partnerships with journalists, educators and researchers to help support informed communities.
Addressing the Integrity of Information on Facebook
We know people want to see accurate information and high quality news on Facebook – and so do we. A few of our efforts to fight the spread of false news on our platform and support an informed community include:
• Disrupting economic incentives because most false news is financially motivated.
• Reducing the posts and ads in News Feed that link to low-quality web page experiences.
• Introducing ranking updates to identify and lower the distribution of false news, clickbait and sensationalism, and to help reduce low quality links in News Feed so people see more informative stories.
• Testing a new placement of Related Articles before you read a story in News Feed, to give people more ways to see a more complete picture of a story or topic.
• Testing ways to make it easier for people to report a false story on Facebook to help address false news globally.
• Exploring better positioning of publisher branding in News Feed as a focus in the months ahead.
Promoting News Literacy
We want to empower people to identify misleading news content when they encounter it — on any platform.
Earlier this year, we gathered journalists, academics and non-profits for our first working group on news literacy at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University, and held similar gatherings in Berlin and London shortly thereafter. We helped found and fund the News Integrity Initiative at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, a diverse new network of partners who will work together to fund research and projects focused on news literacy. And most recently, we held the first meeting of the Asia Pacific News Literacy Group in Hong Kong.
We're Making Progress and We Have More to Do
We're just getting started. We've learned so much since we launched the Facebook Journalism Project and this collaboration is already driving innovation that we couldn't have achieved on our own. It’s going to take a concerted effort on all of our parts to help build a future where quality journalism can thrive.
Written by Campbell Brown, Head of News Partnerships, and Fidji Simo, VP of Product