A New York Times article provides some detail about Facebook's offer to host publisher content, and reveals that the Times could be the first major affiliate to come on board. 

We love the first paragraph: "Nothing attracts news organizations like Facebook.  And nothing makes them more nervous."

Indeed.  Remember the Yahoo! Newspaper Consortium?  

Despite what appeared to be a golden opportunity to partner with what was then the largest group of websites on the Internet, many newspaper groups, including Gannett and The Tribune Company, sat on the sidelines.  The Consortium brought millions of dollars of new revenue to participating newspapers, and helped train thousands of newspaper sales reps to sell audience and behavioral targeting.  Yet even today, many of our publisher friends in the industry brag about their decision NOT to participate.

To be fair, the Yahoo! deal was far from perfect.  Participating newspapers wound up with an ad serving system that caused operational problems, and changing management at Yahoo! resulted in less than desired attention to the Consortium efforts over time.

Just like with Yahoo!, much of the discussion will focus on control.  That's a valid concern, and publishers should ask all the right questions.  We just want to exhort our publisher friends to take a close look.  Don't miss out on a golden opportunity because of a perceived threat.  Whatever might be said about the Yahoo! experience, Yahoo! did not "take control" of member newspapers, and it was clearly not their aim to do so.

As the article states, Facebook has much to gain from bringing news publishers on board.  No kidding.  That's why they are focused on this strategy.  

The article also makes it clear that Facebook is looking to structure the relationship in a way that will bring ad revenue to its partners.  

Publishers, run your numbers and do your due diligence rapidly.  Remember that with the Yahoo! deal, those that were first in the door got the best financial terms.  Sometimes, you have to take high risks to gain high rewards.

BOB KELLAGHER     Bob2

THE BLINDER GROUP     

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