Facebook is in talks with "at least half a dozen" media companies including The New York Times, BuzzFeed, and National Geographic to publish their content directly to the platform, according to The New York Times.
The idea is that publishers' content would load quicker for users--particularly on mobile--inside Facebook's platform than it would if users must click on a link to an external website and wait for it to load.
Details of how the "new format" will look and work are scant in the Times report, but publishers may also be looking to Facebook's 1.4 billion active users as a way to open up their content to new audiences: audiences that have become accustomed to checking the platform several times a day.
However, as The Times points out, hosting content directly on Facebook would most likely result in at least some lack of control for publishers. They would need to share any associated advertising revenue with Facebook, and data on their audiences would most likely be less rich (for them) than the analytics they use on their own platforms--particularly on sites like that of The Times, which requires user registration and payment to read more than a certain number of articles each month.
When news of the direct-to-Facebook publishing plan first emerged in October, Chris Duncan, the chief marketing officer of the biggest newspaper publisher in the UK, News UK, described the idea as a "tax on navigation" and a "tax on audience." He said while it might be an option for smaller or regional publications with modest circulations, for big titles it would be like "handing over the keys to all the things digital publishers are good at."
It seems, however, that other publications are taking a different view and have become more open to diversifying where their content is published--even if that means readers are not coming to their sites directly. Snapchat's new Discover service, for example, has signed up major content partners to publish daily including The Daily Mail, Vice, and CNN.
As Will Hayward, the former BuzzFeed European vice president tweeted: