The Weekly Cover: Facebook turns 20

As Facebook turns 20, we undoubtedly find ourselves in a time of extreme transition when it comes to social and media at large. Snapchat has this week launched a multimedia campaign distancing itself from social, while The Economist appears to have called time on such platforms at large. Meanwhile, FIPP Chair Yulia Boyle provides her insights into the current state of today’s wider media landscape, ahead of the association’s World Media Congress in Cascais later this year…

Celebrate… good times!?

Facebook turned 20 on Sunday, and Sky News runs a great timeline on what it calls ‘a history [that] has been chequered with controversy’. Chequered or not, the social platform remains a cheque heard (!) and last week announced the introduction of a quarterly dividend payout, having tripled net income following two years of ‘several measures to pursue greater efficiency and to realign [its] business and strategic priorities’.

That Facebook and social media more generally have ended up having a net negative impact on society, as opposed to a net positive one, seems at this point to be beyond reasonable doubt – or at least consensus. Calls for greater regulation of such platforms over the years have struggled to keep pace with technological change, and now with the AI genie well and truly out of the bottle, the industry – and society at large – is bracing itself to see what comes next.

There was once a dream that was Rome

The end of the social media dream is a theme that we see playing out quite readily now in industry literature. Snapchat has this week launched a new campaign called ‘Less Social Media. More Snapchat’ in a bid to distance itself from what it perceives to be an increasingly negative landscape. The 360-marketing campaign includes television, print, out-of-home and digital ads that highlight the platforms unique credentials.

On Friday, The Economist X’d out its latest cover art reading, ‘The End of the Social Network’, and saying ‘Social media are undergoing a profound but little-noticed transformation. Strikingly, they are no longer very social. The tide is turning.’

When one couples this with the demise of cookies, and a pivot away for many in the industry from the endless pursuit of scale back towards more carefully curated, contextual based advertising landscapes, it is possible to be positive about the return of quality – over at a times simply a quantity of – media. Of course again, particularly with the advent of AI, and the fragmentation of platforms that we continue to see, where this next chapter takes us in reality (or metaverse) is at this stage anyone’s guess.

FIPP World Media Congress

One person who this week attempts to elevate such guesswork to informed estimate is FIPP Chair, Yulia Boyle, who ahead of the FIPP World Congress taking place in Cascais, Portugal, in June, has given some of her key predictions on the evolution of media in 2024 and beyond.

Amongst them is of course, the need to balance the practical implementation of AI with the protection of creative rights, but there is also wider interesting consideration here as regards ad-blocking, DEI, and the hesitation of major developers like YouTube, Spotify, and Netflix to have thusfar shunned the launch of the Apple Vision Pro.

Advent of Audio

In Boyle’s interview with FIPP, when asked about what the media landscape might look like over the next few years, the exec gives the following response: “I recently read a post by Jacob Donnelly, formerly of Morning Brew and now with A Media Operator, who said: ‘I believe the future of media looks a lot like the past: smaller, niche publications serving focused audiences tied to passions and business needs.’

When it comes to audio, I think we can safely say at this point that video did not kill the radio star. Bauer Media Audio UK last week announced an impressive reach of 23.3m weekly listeners (+7.8% yr on yr) in the latest RAJAR results, alongside overall UK commercial radio growth of 2.8% yr on yr to 39.1m listeners. We also saw Joe Rogan ink a new podcast deal with Spotify, reportedly worth $250m, while simultaneously relinquishing platform exclusivity on the show. The re-emergence of audio in recent years has been one silver-lining in an at times otherwise cloudy industry sky… going after earbuds rather than eyeballs has, ironically, become a way to drown out the social noise.

You can read the rest of the week’s media news as it develops here, and if you’ve got a story to share, simply get in contact with us directly.

[Main cover image: Economist via X, Image: Daniel Liévano, accompanying article]