Facebook, if it wasn’t already abundantly clear, wants us to spend more time on its network and by extension more time with its ads. One way it’s attempting to carve out a disproportionate amount our collective attention is by streamlining elements of the user experience. Another is by aggregating content, specifically news content, that’s up-to-the-minute, easy to access, and somewhat exclusive. It’s the latter effort that’s reportedly getting attention next week: according to the Financial Times, Facebook’s poised to reveal Notify, an app which serves breaking from around the globe.
It’s said that the app will contain content from “dozens of media partners” including Vogue, The Washington Post, Comedy Central, Billboard, and CBS.Notify seems to be Facebook’s effort to appeal to users who are hungry for news. Right now it’s in competition with Twitter for real-time updates about what is going on in the world. The app could also complement Facebook’s Instant Articles offering, which recently became more widely available to those using its iOS app.
Business Insider’s Alyson Shontell was first to report that Facebook was working with publishers on an app for delivering news in August.
The app was described as being able to send notification alerts for breaking news that “allow for up to 100 characters of text and a url to the news article on that publication’s website.”
Reports indicate that users will be able to look at feature content from across all matters of media, including print, digital, and video. What makes this better than Instant Articles is how quickly the information can be made available to you — instead of having to scour through your News Feed or other parts of the social network, just open up a standalone app and look at what’s being presented.
The impetus for Facebook’s mobile push is encroachment from Twitter, Snapchat, and other companies which increasingly perceive news as a means to drive engagement. Snapchat’s enormously popular Discover feature serves video from a host of publications. Twitter’s Moments provides a curated feed of pictures, videos, and tweets organized around top news topics. Google and a host of partner companies (including Twitter, incidentally) recently launched Accelerated Mobile Pages, an initiative to “dramatically improve performance” of webpages with rich content. And Apple debuted its own news aggregator app, News, with the release of iOS 9.1.
The competition may be fierce, but Facebook has a decided advantage: meteoric growth. In its third quarter earnings report on Wednesday, the company reported that 1.01 billion people now use Facebook every day on average. Meanwhile, videos hosted on Facebook now attract more than 9 billion views daily — about double the average view count from eight months ago.
Being a news app, Notify could also compete alongside Flipboard, Inside, Yahoo News Digest, Apple News, and Snapchat’s Discover offering in terms of displaying the latest news from professional media outlets. It’s also quite possible that the company will let people share content from the app right into Facebook, opening them up as an Instant Article. I suppose we’ll find out next week, if it happens.