Morning Mediawire: How Google replaced the Facebook decline for publishers

Keywords. Authenticity. Swift page-loading.

Publishers who remembered their lessons about search-engine optimization have fared best over the past year, as social views from Facebook have plummeted.

That’s because search, particularly Google, has more than filled the reader gap left by Facebook, says John Saroff, CEO of the publisher analytics company Chartbeat.

Saroff understands the back-to-the-future aspect of the swap of internet giants — and of the corresponding behavior of news publishers. “SEO can feel like an acronym from another time,” he wrote in a blog post, a message reinforced at last week’s Recode conference.

Why SEO is important: Referrals, Chartbeat says, still account for 47 percent of news traffic. Overall, Google provides about 40 percent of those referrals; Facebook 30 percent.

But Facebook referrals plunged another 7 percent in July, after a 15 percent decline in 2007, Digiday quoted Josh Schwartz, Chartbeat’s chief of product, engineering and data, as saying.  

Some publishers have turned away from Facebook’s Instant Articles tool, saying that casual readers may be more loyal to Facebook than to the people who created the stories. But many have adopted Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which Chartbeat credits for the bulk of Google’s increase in referrals.

The news comes as many publishers are focusing on building affinity with readers who will become regulars, through newsletters, podcasts and, yes, homepage use. We’ll be addressing some of these issues in the days ahead and would like to know from you how news outlets are dealing with the change.

But first, welcome to Poynter’s Morning Mediawire. Here are the media stories that you need to know today, and yes, some of them are about Facebook.

QUICK HITS

NEVER AGAIN: How did these social media-savvy teens from Parkland, Florida, with great focus and clarity, create a movement? For starters, they have gotten very little sleep. They’ve tried to remain disciplined, factual and nonpartisan, the New Yorker’s Emily Witt reports — and, sadly, they were prepared. “We have grown up with this problem,” says junior class president Jaclyn Corin, who had worked on a 50-page project about gun control for her A.P. composition-and-rhetoric class a couple of months before. “It’s not like a new fresh horrible thing that’s happening.”

THE WRONG MESSAGE: The Facebook vice president was speaking only for himself, but Rob Goldman’s message over the weekend — on Russian ad buys on Facebook and the Mueller investigation — ended up being embraced by President Trump. “Now, Facebook is in the uncomfortable position of reining in an off-message executive, while clarifying that it didn’t mean to bolster the president’s position,” writes the NYT’s Kevin Roose.

MORE FACEBOOK DOOM: The social network didn’t mean to wreck the news media, argues Mathew Ingram in CJR; it may have happened by accident. “It’s one thing to break a product, but if you move fast and break democracy, or move fast and break journalism, how do you measure the impact of that—and how do you go about trying to fix it?” Ingram asks. He gets a disquieting response by the NYT’s former longtime digital head, Martin Nisenholtz: “I think there’s a possibility that they just don’t know what to do” about these larger problems, says Nisenholtz. “I think there’s a chance they don’t have the people in their organization or the DNA to even understand what is going on or what to do about it.”

AGAINST HER WILL: He was the second man to kiss her. It was not love. Those two minutes when, she said, Donald Trump forced himself upon her made her move back home to Ohio, made her run for office, made Rachel Crooks fight the man who became president. Profile by the Washington Post’s Eli Saslow.

NOT LIKE AMERICA: Wary of the Russian meddling and troll chaos that plagued the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Brazil has decided it will move forcefully against dis- and misinformation, even at the price of free speech, reports the NYT’s Ernesto Londoño.

A SOUL, AND A SPINE: “Journalism may not work as it did in the past,” Washington Post editor Marty Baron tells an audience at Oxford University. “Our work’s anticipated impact may not materialize. The public may not process information as it did previously.” So these days, Baron concludes: “We need more than a soul. We also need a spine. I am pleased to report that we have that, too.”

REBUILDING RADIO SCHEDULES, AND TRUST: The #MeToo movement has led to a tsunami in public radio, with abrupt firings of leading hosts and legends on the FM dial. NYT’s Ben Sisario asks: Will it hurt donations? “People make assumptions about who these people are based on their voice and what feels like an intimate, one-on-one relationship,” says former NPR CEO Vivian Schiller, “so the potential for backlash is that much greater if you feel that you have been betrayed.”

FAKE VIDEOS? US lawmakers, concerned about advances in video manipulation technology, say they want to set rules before it sets off a new era of misinformation and disinformation. Here’s Ali Breland from The Hill.

STREAMING, TOO: NBC says it is making big chunks of its money from shows like “This Is Us” and “The Good Place” from streaming. That provides an extra revenue stream as regular broadcast advertising revenue declines.

HIRED: Aman Sethi has been appointed as editor-in-chief for HuffPost India, one of HuffPost’s 17 editions worldwide. Sethi comes from the Hindustan Times, where he was an associate editor, and formerly was Africa correspondent for The Hindu. … Jim Waterson is moving from politics editor of BuzzFeed UK to media editor at the Guardian.

IT’S TWO STUDIES, BUT … Researchers from the University of Kansas say just because you’re on social media in the morning doesn’t mean you are more prone to social isolation. They base this conclusion on two studies on social displacement and social media. Let the debates begin!

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