The Australian Government and News Media saga continues...

We didn’t quite think things would change so quickly since last month’s Bulletin, but it seems the news of the Media Bargaining Code saw all Australians without any news on their Facebook pages, only for the decision to be reversed again a mere 5 days later. This month also saw Jeff Bezos standing down as CEO of Amazon just as the company hits $1 billion in Australia, Shopify starts rolling out plans to be able to checkout within Facebook and Instagram in the US and we dive into reports into how consumers use social media to research before buying and how trends in digital consumption have changed drastically in kids this year.

1. Facebook vs the Australian Government. Round 2 is on...

How things can change in an internet minute… or just a few short weeks. So in our last Bulletin, we queried about how we could deal if Google came through on their threat to leave Australia. Well, Facebook, not one to be left behind, and went ahead and blocked all Australians from viewing News Media Pages across their platform.

What happened?
On the morning of Thursday the 18th February, Facebook banned all news content within Australia on its platform. Users who visit publisher’s pages within Australia saw ‘No Posts Yet’ and were unable to share content. This is inclusive of traditional news publications (such as the ABC), lifestyle content (such as The Urban List), smaller niche content producers and even Facebook’s own Facebook News page.

Other publications caught up in this saga include QLD Health, Harvey Norman and BOM, although Facebook was quick to say: “Government Pages should not be impacted… As the law does not provide clear guidance on the definition of news content, we have taken a broad definition in order to respect the law as drafted. However, we will reverse any Pages that are inadvertently impacted.”

Why did it occur?
Facebook had banned this content in an escalation of tensions around the Media Bargaining Code, which would make tech giants such as Facebook and Google pay publishers for news content.
Facebook believes that the proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between its platform and publishers who use it to share news content. Facebooks full statement on the day can be found here.

This is the same code that led Google to threaten to ban Google Search in Australia as well. This outcome now appears less likely as Google has announced deals with major publishers such as Nine and News Corp in the last few days.

Where are we now?
On Tuesday the 23rd, it was announced that Facebook will roll back the ban on the new pages, the pages will be reinstated after negotiations and the government will make amendments to the code.
More information here.

What does it mean?
One major outcome of Facebook blocking all the news channels (and the many small publications and businesses caught in the crossfire) is the reminder that Facebook is a private company and you do not own your page or your audience; they can take it away at any point. Don’t get us wrong, we’re massive Facebook (and IG and all the socials) fans, but they need to be part of your digital strategy to reach your audience and not be your only channel.

Having your own website and, just as importantly, your own email database are the two biggest assets you need to reach your audience that you can keep secure.

Facebook Statement (Original & Update)News coming back to FacebookNews Consumption dropped immediatelyABC App tops the charts

2. Did you know? 45% of internet users research social media before buying

Following on from what’s been going on with Facebook, and if you need another reason for having a diversified range of channels to reach your customers, Hootsuite has released data showing how global purchasing habits changed significantly in 2020. Almost half (45%) of all internet users around the world are now using social media platforms to research future purchases before they choose to buy goods or services. This highlights the need to improve your customer’s experience on social media in order to drive sales and to look beyond Google – with 7 in 10 internet users saying that they now go beyond search engines.

Read More

3. Do you have products marketed towards the younger generation? Check this report

Our friends at Super Awesome have put together a report on the changing trends in digital consumption in kids compared to pre-pandemic. They discovered that in 2020, kids’ screen-time increased by up to 50% because social activities, entertainment and learning all shifted into digital environments due to the impacts of COVID-19. This means that their digital consumption patterns have shifted and they’re no longer spending the majority of their time on digital devices on the weekends and it’s now more spread out throughout the week.

The report also found that 60% of 7 to 9 year olds said that if they saw an ad for a toy on YouTube, they would really want it, the highest by far of all the channels. This cements YouTube’s place as king when it comes to content for kids; adverts on TV, in comparison, only reached 28%.

Read the Report

4.Social buying is getting easier

At least Shopify and some social media platforms are trying to make it easier for consumers to make a complete purchase through the app, with the eCommerce platform expanding its checkout system to Facebook and Instagram. However, only 9% of consumers buying through social platforms did so on a regular basis, according to an eMarketer survey conducted last August. In addition to this, only 18.7% used the available checkout features, with 57.8% clicking away from the social media platform to purchase directly from the retailer’s website, according to a different eMarketer survey in June, showing that customers still have more trust in website purchasing. Although this looks to be released in the US for now, it will be interesting to see if it’s rolled out to other countries and whether it catches on with consumers.

Read More

5. Jeff Bezos stands down as CEO of Amazon just as the company smashes $1 BILLION in Australia

In more wider industry news, Jeff Bezos has announced his decision to move away from his post as CEO of Amazon in order to dedicate more time to other projects such as the Bezos Earth Fund, his Blue Origin spaceship company and The Washington Post. The company is now worth more than $1.6 trillion, but this news comes after Amazon smashes through the $1 billion mark in Australia – a huge milestone that proves that eCommerce in Australia is booming and shows no signs of slowing down, despite only launching here three years ago. In fact, Amazon sales doubled in Australia throughout the span of 2020 thanks to the pandemic.

Amazon hit $1B in AUSJeff Bezos Stands Down

6. Instagram is trialling stopping allowing users to add feed images to Stories - and they’re saying goodbye to TikTok watermarked stories….

Instagram is trialling a move to stop users from sharing feed posts onto their Stories in order to stop the doubling up of content. This makes sense as if you’re following them then you should be seeing their posts on your feed, so you don’t need them in Stories too. Although it’s a move designed to inspire users to get more creative with their posts to encourage reach rather than just posting on stories to reach more of their audience, but with many complaining that it’s the algorithm and not creativity, this move could face some backlash. In a further move to stop recycled content, Instagram is also putting a stop to users posting their TikToks on their Reels by adjusting the algorithm so that videos with the TikTok watermark reach fewer people. What do you think of this decision?

Insta trial stop sharing to feedTikTok watermark reach fewer people on IG