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Understanding Facebook’s News Ban in Australia, and What it Means for the Platform Moving Forward

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understanding facebooks news ban in australia and what it means for the platform moving forward

Facebook threw the cat among the proverbial pigeons this week when it announced, after months of tense back and forth, that it would cut Australian news publishers off from its service, rather than adhering to the Australian Government’s proposed Media Bargaining Code.

I’m actually in Australia, so I can tell you how it’s going. It’s a mess. Some people still have access to news Pages in the Facebook app, some don’t. Some elements aren’t working like they should – Creator Studio, for example, seems to have freaked out entirely, though hard to tell whether that’s because of the changes in who can and can’t access certain content or just a CS problem.

But above all there, there’s a lot of confusion.

You see, most regular people haven’t paid much mind to the Government’s Media Bargaining changes, which take aim, specifically, at Facebook and Google. Why them? Because they make so much money, so the Government, based on the findings of the ACCC, decided that they should share it.

But in this instance, no matter how you might feel about Facebook in general, The Social Network is actually in the right. Here’s a look at some of the most common questions about the change in Australia, and what it might mean for similar proposals moving forward.

What is the Media Bargaining Code?

The full history of the Government’s proposed Media Bargaining Code goes back a few years.

Back in 2017, the Government called on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to “consider the impact of online search engines, social media and digital content aggregators on competition in the media and advertising services markets.” The ACCC’s research, which it undertook over the proceeding two years, highlighted several key concerns and impacts to the local media sector, including a decline in business incentive to cover essential elements of news reportage.

“[We’re seeing] reduced production of particular types of news and journalism, including local government and local court reporting, which are important for the healthy functioning of the democratic process. There is not yet any indication of a business model that can effectively replace the advertiser model, which has historically funded the production of these types of journalism in Australia.”

This was the first seed of the Media Bargaining Code, implementing a new mechanism to fund journalism, while the ACCC’s report also took specific aim at Google and Facebook, and their dominant, and conflicted, market position.

ACCC Media Review

As per the report:

“Where Google’s and Facebook’s business users are also their competitors, there are questions about whether there is a level playing field, or whether they have the ability to give themselves advantages by favouring their own products. As Google and Facebook continue to expand into adjacent markets through acquisitions and organic expansion, these risks increase.”

So the concerns relate to both Google and Facebook’s dominance, and their capacity to tilt the digital advertising field in their favor. Which are valid concerns, but how you go about addressing them is another matter.

Stemming from the ACCC’s initial findings, the Government first sought to target the tech giants via tax reform. In 2018, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Australia would look to squeeze more tax payments out of Google and Facebook, along with Apple and Amazon, but that plan was quashed by the Trump Administration, which made it absolutely clear that it would not stand for US companies facing higher tax obligations.

As outlined by then US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin

“The United States remains opposed to digital services taxes and similar unilateral measures. As we have repeatedly said, if countries choose to collect or adopt such taxes, the United States will respond with appropriate commensurate measures.”

The threat of a trade war with the US was enough for the Australian Government to abandon the idea completely, which meant it had to go back to the drawing board to work out how to extract more cash from the two platforms, and even the field for local media players.

That lead to the Government calling on the big tech platforms to negotiate with local media businesses, voluntarily, on a “fair and reasonable” payment model for the use of news content on their platforms. Facebook and Google both opted not to participate in this process, arguing that they gleaned little to no benefit from such content – and in fact, they actually drove benefit for news organizations by hosting links to their material.

In April 2020, amidst the rising industry impacts as a result of COVID-19, and after months of waiting on Google and Facebook to come to the bargaining table, Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg then directed the ACCC to develop a mandatory code “to address bargaining power imbalances between digital platforms and media companies”. That set the Government’s position – Google and Facebook would be forced to pay a portion of their revenue to local news publishers, by law, which then started the chain of events leading to this week’s stand-off.

The Government’s ambition here has merit, but the path they’ve taken to get there is something of a shortcut.

What’s the Australian Government asking for?

Under the Government’s Media Bargaining Code, Facebook and Google will be required to share revenue with Australian publishers for any use of news content, including links to their sites. How much, exactly, they would need to provide for this is not specified, but it would come down to negotiation between the relevant parties, and arbitration, if deals cannot be reached.

The Code also stipulates that the platforms would have to:

…provide registered news business corporations with advance notification of planned changes to an algorithm or internal practice that will have a significant effect on covered news content.”

So anytime Google or Facebook are looking to change their algorithms, they’d need to give Australian news publishers advanced notice. But not all publishers.

In order to qualify as a news publisher within the definitions outlined in the code, an organization needs to have an annual revenue “above $150,000 in the most recent year or in three of the five most recent years”. That limits the publishers that are able to benefit from the payments.

The penalty for not adhering to the code is a maximum fine of $10 million per year, or a portion of the company’s annual revenue.

The idea, then, is that this funding would then prop-up local news publishers, and create a more level playing field by reducing the dominance of the big players.

Why doesn’t Facebook just pay up?

Well really, why should it?

As Facebook has explained repeatedly in its responses to the Australian Government.

“[The code] would force Facebook to pay news organizations for content that the publishers voluntarily place on our platforms and at a price that ignores the financial value we bring publishers.”

Facebook doesn’t have a dedicated news platform in Australia, so it drives no direct benefit from news content. Sure, Facebook does benefit from having news content on its platform, and the subsequent engagement and discussion it generates, but Facebook itself doesn’t re-share news content, it doesn’t take publisher material and re-use it for its own gain. Users, including the publishers themselves, post the content to Facebook, the latter case using Facebook’s scale to drive more traffic back to their sites.

And now Facebook has to pay them for the privilege?

Facebook has also repeatedly noted that news content, especially from Australian, publishers, is not a major element on its platform.

“For Facebook, the business gain from news is minimal. News makes up less than 4% of the content people see in their News Feed.”

But Australian publishers have pushed forward in their negotiations under the assertion that news content is, in fact, critical to Facebook, that Facebook needs their work to fuel its engine. Again, Facebook has told them, over and over, that this is not the case, and that, if anything, it’s the other way around.

Last year Facebook generated approximately 5.1 billion free referrals to Australian publishers worth an estimated AU$407 million.”

That’s even more relevant in the case of smaller publishers who won’t benefit from the Code, and who’ve built their business models on the back of Facebook. Larger media players may be able to live without Facebook referral traffic, but the minnows may not. So again, the way Facebook sees it – and the way it is – is that Facebook doesn’t need news publishers, it’s more the other way around. And it shouldn’t have to pay for playing that role.

Given this, Facebook’s response this week should not come as a surprise.

As Facebook noted in August last year:

“Assuming this draft code becomes law, we will reluctantly stop allowing publishers and people in Australia from sharing local and international news on Facebook and Instagram.”

Facebook has been warning of this outcome for months, the move should come as no surprise.

Worth noting, too, that in the day following Facebook’s decision, traffic to Australian news sites from visitors outside the country dropped by 20%.

Why did Google pay then?

Earlier in the week, Google agreed to new deals with three of Australia’s biggest publishers which will see Google feature their content in its News Showcase offering. Those deals are said to be in the tens of millions each, which is significant – but as far back as October, Google was offering News Showcase as an alternative way forward, in order to provide additional funding for local journalism while also driving direct benefit for Google. Google has already committed $1 billion to its News Showcase product.

As Kara Swisher notes in the New York Times, there’s more at stake for Google here, so while it appears to have relented somewhat, and paid more than it was likely intending in order to get Australian publishers on board, the final arrangement is largely in line with Google’s alternate offering. It has not, it’s worth noting, agreed to adhere to the Media Bargaining Code.

And it may not have to – in welcoming the Google deals, Frydenberg has noted that:

“If commercial deals are in place, that changes the equation.”

The implication here is that the additional requirements, like sharing algorithm insights, will now not be pursued, because Google has made independent, commercial deals with publishers.

Which begs the question, what was the real intention of this policy?

Was it to level the playing field, as per the Government’s original stated intention, or was it just to extract more money from Google and Facebook? And will it really benefit ‘journalism’ as whole, or just the big players like News Corp – which, incidentally, also pays virtually no tax in Australia?

Given the process, whether you like Facebook or not, the company’s stance seems logical at this stage.

Ongoing, the further impact for Google, in potentially paying more for its News Showcase deals in Australia (we don’t have insight into the full details of Google’s negotiations with different publishers) could be that it ends up driving up the costs of similar deals in other regions, which are also pushing for greater revenue share for local news outlets. That could end up being a costly concession for the search giant.

But Facebook has also blocked Pages that aren’t news sites…

As many have noted, Facebook has also blocked a range of government and other informational Pages which are not news providers as part of its Australian blockade – it’s even blacked out its own Page.

Facebook page blocked

This is true, but it’s not because Facebook has been overzealous in its approach, as many have suggested.

As per the wording of the Code, news content is classified as:

“Content that reports, investigates or explains issues or events that are relevant in engaging Australians in public debate and in informing democratic decision-making; or current issues or events of public significance for Australians at a local, regional or national level.”

Which covers pretty much every website that’s not a business – any Facebook Page that publishes information, that’s of relevance to anyone, could come under this umbrella. So Facebook cut them all off, and now it’s working its way back through certain exceptions – which really probably still fall into this category, depending on how you read it.

So don’t blame Facebook on this front, blame the code, which is overly broad and general in its scope.

People are going to turn on Facebook

Yeah, this is the gamble that Facebook’s taking, and it may well backfire – but it’s also their gamble to take.

Facebook would have some idea of the potential impacts here, it’s likely conducted tests reducing news content in Australian news feeds to examine behaviors. It could end up losing users in Australia as a result, and it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out, and what the impacts of a news-free Facebook could be on engagement trends.

But make no mistake, the Australian Government is using two multinational corporations to boost its own agenda, and sway voter opinion in its favor.

The public will never side with billion-dollar organizations that are taking money out of the country, they will always be the bad guys. The Government knows this, so it’s a safe bet to push them and see what it can get. If the companies relent, the Government wins, and if they don’t, they end up looking like the creeps, while subsequently framing the Government as the ones standing up for the rights of local businesses.

And what can the Government get? More money for the press, particularly Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp, which dominates the Australian news media landscape, and clearly aligns its coverage with the sitting Liberal party.

In an election year, the Government will need all the good press it can get, and it can now claim to have handed them billions in additional, potentially securing ongoing favor. 

As noted, the original intentions of this proposal make sense, and there does need to be some level of balance restored in the sector. But the new Code is not about economics. It’s a lesson in modern politics, and holding government at all costs.

What happens now?

So what comes next? It still seems – or at least feels – likely that, eventually, Facebook and the Government will come to an agreement and things will go back to normal in the Australian market. 

Frydenberg has already noted that talks with Facebook are ongoing, while Facebook has said that the ball is now in the Government’s court, and that it won’t be changing its stance on the Media Bargaining Code. But the blockage will put increased pressure on media businesses, at a time when many are still struggling to maintain cash flows. That will subsequently put pressure on the Government to make a deal, and while it’s not certain that this will happen, it seems like there will be an agreement at some stage.

But it’s an interesting case study either way, and it could set a new precedent for Facebook’s negotiations on similar proposals moving forward. Now, other nations know that Facebook will go so far as blocking certain sites if it has to, that its claims are not a bluff. That will mean that anyone looking to push The Social Network will also have to consider the expanded impacts of such shifts.   

Socialmediatoday.com

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12 Proven Methods to Make Money Blogging in 2024

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Make money blogging

 

Make money bloggingThis is a contributed article.

The world of blogging continues to thrive in 2024, offering a compelling avenue for creative minds to share their knowledge, build an audience, and even turn their passion into profit. Whether you’re a seasoned blogger or just starting, there are numerous effective strategies to monetize your blog and achieve financial success. Here, we delve into 12 proven methods to make money blogging in 2024:

1. Embrace Niche Expertise:

Standing out in the vast blogosphere requires focus. Carving a niche allows you to cater to a specific audience with targeted content. This not only builds a loyal following but also positions you as an authority in your chosen field. Whether it’s gardening techniques, travel hacking tips, or the intricacies of cryptocurrency, delve deep into a subject you’re passionate and knowledgeable about. Targeted audiences are more receptive to monetization efforts, making them ideal for success.

2. Content is King (and Queen):

High-quality content remains the cornerstone of any successful blog. In 2024, readers crave informative, engaging, and well-written content that solves their problems, answers their questions, or entertains them. Invest time in crafting valuable blog posts, articles, or videos that resonate with your target audience.

  • Focus on evergreen content: Create content that remains relevant for a long time, attracting consistent traffic and boosting your earning potential.
  • Incorporate multimedia: Spice up your content with captivating images, infographics, or even videos to enhance reader engagement and improve SEO.
  • Maintain consistency: Develop a regular publishing schedule to build anticipation and keep your audience coming back for more.

3. The Power of SEO:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ensures your blog ranks high in search engine results for relevant keywords. This increases organic traffic, the lifeblood of any monetization strategy.

  • Keyword research: Use keyword research tools to identify terms your target audience searches for. Strategically incorporate these keywords into your content naturally.
  • Technical SEO: Optimize your blog’s loading speed, mobile responsiveness, and overall technical aspects to improve search engine ranking.
  • Backlink building: Encourage other websites to link back to your content, boosting your blog’s authority in the eyes of search engines.

4. Monetization Magic: Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing allows you to earn commissions by promoting other companies’ products or services. When a reader clicks on your affiliate link and makes a purchase, you get a commission.

  • Choose relevant affiliates: Promote products or services that align with your niche and resonate with your audience.
  • Transparency is key: Disclose your affiliate relationships clearly to your readers and build trust.
  • Integrate strategically: Don’t just bombard readers with links. Weave affiliate promotions naturally into your content, highlighting the value proposition.

5. Display Advertising: A Classic Approach

Display advertising involves placing banner ads, text ads, or other visual elements on your blog. When a reader clicks on an ad, you earn revenue.

  • Choose reputable ad networks: Partner with established ad networks that offer competitive rates and relevant ads for your audience.
  • Strategic ad placement: Place ads thoughtfully, avoiding an overwhelming experience for readers.
  • Track your performance: Monitor ad clicks and conversions to measure the effectiveness of your ad placements and optimize for better results.

6. Offer Premium Content:

Providing exclusive, in-depth content behind a paywall can generate additional income. This could be premium blog posts, ebooks, online courses, or webinars.

  • Deliver exceptional value: Ensure your premium content offers significant value that justifies the price tag.
  • Multiple pricing options: Consider offering tiered subscription plans to cater to different audience needs and budgets.
  • Promote effectively: Highlight the benefits of your premium content and encourage readers to subscribe.

7. Coaching and Consulting:

Leverage your expertise by offering coaching or consulting services related to your niche. Readers who find your content valuable may be interested in personalized guidance.

  • Position yourself as an expert: Showcase your qualifications, experience, and client testimonials to build trust and establish your credibility.
  • Offer free consultations: Provide a limited free consultation to potential clients, allowing them to experience your expertise firsthand.
  • Develop clear packages: Outline different coaching or consulting packages with varying time commitments and pricing structures.

8. The Power of Community: Online Events and Webinars

Host online events or webinars related to your niche. These events offer valuable content while also providing an opportunity to promote other monetization avenues.

  • Interactive and engaging: Structure your online events to be interactive with polls, Q&A sessions, or live chats. Click here to learn more about image marketing with Q&A sessions and live chats.

9. Embrace the Power of Email Marketing:

Building an email list allows you to foster stronger relationships with your audience and promote your content and offerings directly.

  • Offer valuable incentives: Encourage readers to subscribe by offering exclusive content, discounts, or early access to new products.
  • Segmentation is key: Segment your email list based on reader interests to send targeted campaigns that resonate more effectively.
  • Regular communication: Maintain consistent communication with your subscribers through engaging newsletters or updates.

10. Sell Your Own Products:

Take your expertise to the next level by creating and selling your own products. This could be physical merchandise, digital downloads, or even printables related to your niche.

  • Identify audience needs: Develop products that address the specific needs and desires of your target audience.
  • High-quality offerings: Invest in creating high-quality products that offer exceptional value and user experience.
  • Utilize multiple platforms: Sell your products through your blog, online marketplaces, or even social media platforms.

11. Sponsorships and Brand Collaborations:

Partner with brands or businesses relevant to your niche for sponsored content or collaborations. This can be a lucrative way to leverage your audience and generate income.

  • Maintain editorial control: While working with sponsors, ensure you retain editorial control to maintain your blog’s authenticity and audience trust.
  • Disclosures are essential: Clearly disclose sponsored content to readers, upholding transparency and ethical practices.
  • Align with your niche: Partner with brands that complement your content and resonate with your audience.

12. Freelancing and Paid Writing Opportunities:

Your blog can serve as a springboard for freelance writing opportunities. Showcase your writing skills and expertise through your blog content, attracting potential clients.

  • Target relevant publications: Identify online publications, websites, or magazines related to your niche and pitch your writing services.
  • High-quality samples: Include high-quality blog posts from your site as writing samples when pitching to potential clients.
  • Develop strong writing skills: Continuously hone your writing skills and stay updated on current trends in your niche to deliver exceptional work.

Conclusion:

Building a successful blog that generates income requires dedication, strategic planning, and high-quality content. In today’s digital age, there are numerous opportunities to make money online through blogging. By utilizing a combination of methods such as affiliate marketing, sponsored content, and selling digital products or services, you can leverage your blog’s potential and achieve financial success.

Remember, consistency in posting, engaging with your audience, and staying adaptable to trends are key to thriving in the ever-evolving blogosphere. Embrace new strategies, refine your approaches, and always keep your readers at the forefront of your content creation journey. With dedication and the right approach, your blog has the potential to become a valuable source of income and a platform for sharing your knowledge and passion with the world, making money online while doing what you love.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos



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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

In a recent announcement, Snapchat revealed a groundbreaking update that challenges its traditional design ethos. The platform is experimenting with an option that allows users to defy the 24-hour auto-delete rule, a feature synonymous with Snapchat’s ephemeral messaging model.

The proposed change aims to introduce a “Never delete” option in messaging retention settings, aligning Snapchat more closely with conventional messaging apps. While this move may blur Snapchat’s distinctive selling point, Snap appears convinced of its necessity.

According to Snap, the decision stems from user feedback and a commitment to innovation based on user needs. The company aims to provide greater flexibility and control over conversations, catering to the preferences of its community.

Currently undergoing trials in select markets, the new feature empowers users to adjust retention settings on a conversation-by-conversation basis. Flexibility remains paramount, with participants able to modify settings within chats and receive in-chat notifications to ensure transparency.

Snapchat underscores that the default auto-delete feature will persist, reinforcing its design philosophy centered on ephemerality. However, with the app gaining traction as a primary messaging platform, the option offers users a means to preserve longer chat histories.

The update marks a pivotal moment for Snapchat, renowned for its disappearing message premise, especially popular among younger demographics. Retaining this focus has been pivotal to Snapchat’s identity, but the shift suggests a broader strategy aimed at diversifying its user base.

This strategy may appeal particularly to older demographics, potentially extending Snapchat’s relevance as users age. By emulating features of conventional messaging platforms, Snapchat seeks to enhance its appeal and broaden its reach.

Yet, the introduction of message retention poses questions about Snapchat’s uniqueness. While addressing user demands, the risk of diluting Snapchat’s distinctiveness looms large.

As Snapchat ventures into uncharted territory, the outcome of this experiment remains uncertain. Will message retention propel Snapchat to new heights, or will it compromise the platform’s uniqueness?

Only time will tell.

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

While it is tempting to try to appeal to a broad audience, the founder of alcohol-free coaching service Just the Tonic, Sandra Parker, believes the best thing you can do for your business is focus on your niche. Here’s how she did just that.

When running a business, reaching out to as many clients as possible can be tempting. But it also risks making your marketing “too generic,” warns Sandra Parker, the founder of Just The Tonic Coaching.

“From the very start of my business, I knew exactly who I could help and who I couldn’t,” Parker told My Biggest Lessons.

Parker struggled with alcohol dependence as a young professional. Today, her business targets high-achieving individuals who face challenges similar to those she had early in her career.

“I understand their frustrations, I understand their fears, and I understand their coping mechanisms and the stories they’re telling themselves,” Parker said. “Because of that, I’m able to market very effectively, to speak in a language that they understand, and am able to reach them.” 

“I believe that it’s really important that you know exactly who your customer or your client is, and you target them, and you resist the temptation to make your marketing too generic to try and reach everyone,” she explained.

“If you speak specifically to your target clients, you will reach them, and I believe that’s the way that you’re going to be more successful.

Watch the video for more of Sandra Parker’s biggest lessons.

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