Facebook gives, but continues to take more from publishers

For all the steps Facebook has taken to support publishers, two new reports offer a stark reminder of who’s really in charge. Parse.ly data shows that across its 2,500-site network, Facebook declined as a source of referral traffic to publishers, with Google surpassing the social network to become the biggest referrer.

Social analytics firm BuzzSumo, meanwhile, reported that Facebook engagement across 880 million posts from publishers and brands fell 20 percent since January.

Publishers have had angst over Facebook before. But they also come at a time when publishers have to do more to keep up on Facebook, while the platform sends very little revenue in return — a mean of 3 percent, according to a survey by WAN-IFRA.

The usual theories given for the decline range from Facebook’s algorithm changes that disadvantage publishers to a desire by Facebook to get publishers to pay for promotion to its emphasis on video viewed directly on the platform, leaving less room for publishers’ links back to their own sites.

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