Bleacher Report CEO Dave Finocchio has some advice for Facebook.
Speaking at the 2017 GeekWire Sports Tech Summit the co-founder of what has become the second largest sports website in the United States said social media can be a struggle for publishers big and small. He noted that Facebook pushed publishers to use its platform as a way to spread content far and wide, but over the years it became harder to get stories linked back to a website.
“I think the days of being able to drive massive referral traffic back to your website are coming to an end,” Finocchio said. “They’re coming to end because Facebook decided it’s best for them for you to stay on Facebook as much as possible.”
Bleacher Report has amassed 7.1 million Facebook followers, 4.3 million Twitter followers and 4.8 million followers on Instagram. Part of its social success comes from its audience sharing content constantly. That allows the company to team up with brands and advertisers to distribute ads across social platforms in a way that might be more engaging than just advertising on Facebook or Google. Finocchio said it’s pretty easy for users to just scroll past these ads.
But still, Facebook and Google are monsters in the advertising business, capturing 85 percent of share of online advertising growth and rising. Publishers who don’t play ball with these companies are going to have a hard time growing their audience, Finocchio said.
“If I have a lake, they have an ocean,” Finocchio said of Facebook and its nearly 2 billion monthly active users. “If I’m not playing in the ocean then I’m not attracting more customers myself, and so they are still the most effective way for us to reach audience consistent.”
Because of this dominance, Finocchio would like to see some changes. The same way Bleacher Report moved from a model of growing based on unpaid work of writers to luring big-name writers in multiple sports, Finocchio would like to see Facebook’s relationship with publishers progress as well. He claims the company has sold publishers and other third-party producers like professional athletes on the value of its platform, but has yet to show the long-term benefits.
“I would just encourage them to think more long-term about what they’re actually doing to the publishing industry in an honest way and not just always think about their own internal (Key Performance Indicators),” Finocchio said.