Facebook lures media firms

03 January 2012

PALO ALTO: Facebook is stepping up its efforts to partner with leading media companies, many of which are increasingly keen to engage the social network's sizeable audience.

The Washington Post is one media operator that has launched a tie-up with Facebook, via the Social Reader app, pulling together all of the newspaper's own online content and suggested material from other sources.

"News today is editor-centric, what we've built is a friends-centric reader experience," Vijay Ravindran, the Washington Post's chief digital officer, told the Financial Times. "It starts with the simple premise that if you could see what your friends are reading, the news would be more interesting."

Some 5m people – 85% of which are under 35 years old – currently utilise the Social Reader application, a tool that also recommends content to users based on what their friends have accessed.

"It is very different than the audience that comes to WashingtonPost.com," said Ravindran. "There will be a time to think about monetisation, but we made a commitment early on to let this experiment run."

Elsewhere, netizens hoping to join Spotify, the online music service, must now have signed up to Facebook. As part of the alliance between the two firms, the songs individuals listen to on Spotify are flagged up on the social network.

"We believe that music is the most powerful social object and now we believe that there are going to be more serendipitous moments where you discover things about people, like, for example, that I have really crappy 1980s music tastes," said Daniel Ek, Spotify's chief executive.

Netflix, the video rental and streaming site, enables its customers outside the US to share updates regarding the material they watch on Facebook, and is seeking to overcome legal hurdles restricting this activity in America.

Meanwhile, content from YouTube and Vimeo, the video-sharing platforms, can already be embedded into Facebook news feeds and played back without leaving the social media service.

Last year, Warner Bros, the movie studio, offered direct streams of films like the Dark Knight through Facebook for just $3, despite a lack of certainty about the revenue-generating prospects provided by this model.

"Media is the category we're excited about right now. We're seeing a lot experimentation," said Dan Rose, Facebook's VP, platform marketing. "Everything outside of games is experimentation when it comes to monetisation."

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff