Yesterday, Facebook announced that it will be updating the News Feed ranking to reduce clickbait headlines.
To update the algorithm, Facebook identified:
- Common phrases in headlines that withheld information required to understand the content of the article.
- Phrases used by headlines to exaggerate the articles and mislead reader expectations.
The update, which is similar to how a spam filter works, will ultimately reduce the clickbait stories people will see in the coming weeks, but also highlights the continued sway Facebook holds over content creators.
How Will This Impact Your Outbrain Headlines?
Like Facebook, Outbrain discourages clickbait headlines. While publishers and brands certainly need to entice readers to read their content, we firmly believe in creating a valuable user experience for audiences online.
This means that headlines should always align with the content that you drive your audience to. This is also why we’re constantly refining our own content guidelines to ensure that what users see is high quality. We ultimately feel that this will not only create a better experience for audiences but also create more significant revenue sources for the premium publishers in our network.
Why Else Did Facebook Adjust Their Algorithm?
In addition to its user experience concerns, Facebook’s effort to adjust its algorithm is another move to pull back on promoting publisher content, in favor of more personal content. While publishers rely heavily on Facebook to distribute their content, the reality is that publishers and content creators remain lower in Facebook’s list of priorities. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to publishers who must react to algorithm or editorial decisions that Facebook feels are in the best interest of the user.
Importance of Headline Testing & Editorial Control
Facebook’s change also underscores the importance of testing different headlines on different channels. Outbrain understands that publishers need maximum control over what users see. This is why we’re constantly advising and working directly with publishers and content creators to experiment with different headlines and images, to balance their editorial authority with our algorithms.
The truth is that for any content marketer or publisher, the latest Facebook’s news feed update shouldn’t come as a surprise. While cordial on the surface, the relationship between content creators and the giant have been tense for some time. The reality is that, as a network, Facebook has an immense power to influence how we understand what is going on in the world — but it is increasingly making efforts to delineate its role as a friends and family connector from that of a news site.
However, this doesn’t mean that news sites are any less valuable. Quite the contrary. In fact, a recent Pew Research Center study revealed that Americans continue to count more on news organizations for information than even friends and family. It also revealed that they find the news they get from these organizations is somewhat more accurate and just as near to their interests.
So as Facebook continues to carve out its own niche, content creators and publishers should continue to focus on their own. They’ll need to consider new ways to distribute their content and exercise editorial control — and they’ll need to partner with technology companies that have both the user and publisher interest in mind.