Betting on Facebook and Snapchat hasn’t paid off big for publishers, a study shows

What’s the real value of third -party apps?
What’s the real value of third -party apps?
Image: Snapchat
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If journalists were betting on third-party apps, like Facebook and Snapchat, to revitalize their businesses, they may be disappointed. Early signs show that the giants of online social networking and messaging aren’t huge sources of revenue for publishers.

Content on third-party platforms—where the work is hosted on services like Facebook Instant Articles, Snapchat Discover, and YouTube rather than on their own URLs—account for a small share of publishers’ overall revenue, according to Digital Content Next, which analyzed data provided by its partners, which include TV and cable networks like ESPN and NBC News, and publishers like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Business Insider.

During the first six months of 2016, third-party platforms made up an estimated average of $7.7 million in revenue per publisher, or 14% of the average overall revenue, the trade group found, citing data provided by 17 of its 19 partners.

Most of that revenue—85% of it, or an estimated average of $6.5 million—came from video content, especially from ads that aired on direct-to-consumer subscription services and device apps like Roku and Apple TV.

Other revenue came from video and display ads on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages, and syndication through platforms like YouTube, Yahoo, AOL, and Apple News.

Overall, YouTube was the most lucrative social-media platform for publishers during the first six months of 2016.

Many outlets use platforms like Twitter and Snapchat to distribute their content and elicit referral traffic, but fewer actually make money through the platforms themselves. For example, of the 19 publishers surveyed, 15 used Snapchat to distribute content, but only 6 monetized that content.

Digital Content Next’s CEO Jason Kint told Quartz the economics suggest that many publishers still see these platforms as marketing vehicles.