Is Facebook Similar To The Big 3 TV Networks In The 1960s?

When big advertisers like Unilever, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, or ConAgra makes a major move in pulling advertising from a media platform, one takes notice.

When it’s one or two of the biggest digital media platforms, we take a closer look. When it concerns hate speech content and other big content issues, even closer. Hello Facebook.

But don’t think all is negative. Wall Street investors -- which work on their own rules -- may see some upside here. Maybe not immediately, but long-term.

After a weekend of supposedly bad advertising news of major brands pulling out, Facebook's stock closed Monday 2% up — to $220.64 per share. Year to date, the stock is up 7.5% -- and we are in the middle of some major U.S. economic troubles.

All this shouldn’t be a big surprise for social-media platform -- given early rumbles about these issues. The question remains for Facebook (and others): ‘Publisher’ or just a ‘platform’?  The former meaning a lot more work and responsibility in checking the veracity of the content on its platform, much like any other news organization.



But let’s also add Twitter, Google and Amazon to the discussion.

Some big marketers say they are suspending all social-media buys in the near term. Twitter seems to be the most forward-looking here -- and then some -- tagging specific content for users with messaging to alert readers.

This aside, the overall picture is that major digital media players are steeling themselves for the regulation that is almost certainly coming -- in the U.S. and elsewhere. Many even welcome it.

And there’s this: Facebook has some 8 million advertisers, pulling in about $70 billion a year. Digital media market analysts believes the return on media investments in using Facebook by advertisers is still tremendous.

Advertisers -- in big droves -- are not going to abandon it. So, follow the money?

But what happens if one day in the future -- five, 10, 15 years from now -- Facebook takes on what TV networks witnessed starting three decades ago -- a rising new kind of competitive media.

If you were a big brand consumer marketer back in the 1960s, maybe you couldn’t conceived this happening. TV networks, starting aggressively in the 1980s and '90s, witnessed lower TV ratings, and drifting lower reach (but still tops over other platforms), for its programming because of competition.

National TV syndication came along, followed by a bigger change with big ad-supported cable networks. Now, strong digital media platforms have been added to the mix.

And where are TV networks? Still kicking. Adapting. Buying into cable, ramping up new businesses, and starting many new premium video digital platforms.

Mind you, many were still asleep at the wheel. Senior media executives are still angry they let Netflix get to where it is today.

But some of this hesitancy may be because TV networks realized their public, ad-based consumer-looking businesses had a big spotlight: Federal regulators keeping a close watch and issued rules.

Now with Facebook, big advertisers worry about brand safety, perhaps more so than with legacy media platforms like TV. Expect some tougher, sweat-producing interrogations coming for publishers, platforms -- whatever we end up calling them.

3 comments about "Is Facebook Similar To The Big 3 TV Networks In The 1960s?".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, June 30, 2020 at 10:03 a.m.

    Wayne, the big three broadcast networks as well as all of the TV stations sufered rating fragmentation because the number of channels available per home rose from around 7 to 75 by the year 2000---almost all of the added channels bsing cable. So, even though the huge increase in available content spurred a modest gain in total viewing time, the net result was lower ratings per program for virtually everybody. The only way that such a fate could befall FB --without other interventions---would be if 10 or 20 new social media platforms suddenly appeared and began to whittle away at FB's usage rates---which is a very unlikely prospect, in my opinion. Far more likely is federal action which may take many forms beyond attempts to stifle hateful or "false" advertising and/or content. I am reminded of what happened in the early 1940s, for example, when the Feds forced RCA to sell one of its two  NBC  radio networks as this was perceived as putting it in a "monopolistic" position, relative to competition. Or the Primetime Access Rule in the early 1970s, which forced the TV networks to reduce their primetime schedules by a half hour per evening as they were "monopolizing" control over original programming. But we shall see---wont we?

  2. Jack Wakshlag from Media Strategy, Research & Analytics replied, June 30, 2020 at 2:22 p.m.

    Go back further Ed. Radio Act of 1934. A Wild West was placed under government regulation. No more miracle cure ads. No more hateful proseletizing. No more run a station with as much power as you want from anywhere you want.  The main difference is that when advertisers buy a tv ad they know there is content regulation and know the content they are in and don't share the screen with who knows what. Seems to be too hard for digital to do. 

  3. Tony Jarvis from Olympic Media Consultancy, June 30, 2020 at 4:40 p.m.

    Why any advertiser would want to include a communications "sewer" (Joe Scarborough,  MSNBC) or "cesspit", as FB has been described, in its media plan is beyond me.  This is especially when any great media planner can always plan around any media platform or vehicle and deliver the same overall media metrics or even better for the brands it serves.  I experienced this expertise often at the media agencies I worked at.  To Jack's point, if you want to invest in a media gorilla, TV as well as other traditional major media work superbly well and deliver based on reliable MRC accredited syndicated data/metrics generated by third party research companies and not by the media itself. 
    To truly resolve the ongoing shameful behaviours of FB, two "interventions" must be followed. 
    1. Congress needs to eliminate Section 230 of the Communications Decent Act which provides immmunity to digital social media such that they will be obliged to become REAL publishers and follow the existing content regulations that all other major media come under. 
    2. Consumers need to completely unsubscribe (apparently not that easy?) to this toxic pariah.  After all they are the FB "bloodstream" and without the bloodstream ....!  There are so many terrific alternatives to what FB seemingly provides but without the many risks across so many dimensions to subscribers.  For those consumers unwilling to do so, perhaps they should consider the now $billions (?) FB has paid in fines worldwide for abuse of their data and their privacy?  

Next story loading loading..