Facebook has a secret weapon: making money from politics

In Greece, the media has always depended heavily on politics in order to survive.   Which is putting it very politely.  Private TV is the playground of rich business tycoons.  They pay money, to get eyeballs and influence and then use that influence in order to get big public sector projects.   We also have a public broadcaster with  thousands of journalists on its payroll, most of them doing nothing other than taking a fat salary.  They also dish out money for “external productions”…   Both of these ways of controlling the media agenda are still working, but are not as powerful as they used to be.  Not so many big projects, not so easy to give a job to your wife’s brother or whoever else you want to make happy as a politican without everybody noticing.

But this corrupt model of media financing is so powerful that everyone still tries to emulate it.   So right now, as we are gearing up for the next elections, hundreds of small or medium media people think they have the masterplan.  They set up a website, get a lot of traffic and then get business people or politicians to pay them to write whatever they need written.  At first it looks like a genuine new news portal.  They invest in building it up.   Which means getting some content from somewhere, maybe even hiring a few journalists and…

…facebook ads!  It is part of the package and at first they simply tick it off:  build website, get social media entities, email blast, google ads, facebook ads…  But then they notice that it’s the only thing that drives traffic.  Their content is rubbish, or – at best – the same as everyone else.  It takes time to build an audience like that and they don’t have time.   They try a few email blasts and then get blacklisted all over the place.  Even in Greece, it is getting harder to simply email a list you picked up from “a friend of a friend”…  So Facebook ads are easy.  They are relatively cheap.   And they bring clicks.

Because all a Greek (new) media tycoon is interested in is his ranking on alexa.com.   This is all this market understands so I assume it will apply to probably 80% of the countries in the world too which are even less advanced in understanding media.  So find a Facebook ad that seems to work and just plaster it all over the place.   No need for fancy targetting, just blanket position to “anyone that has a pulse and lives in Greece“.  Does it bring clicks?  Sure it does!   Do they hang around much?  Of course not!

Google has a different system.  They usually setup a mechanism whereby they have a fixed sum, something in chunks of 50 thousand Euros, and they go straight to the top of the food chain.  Much like a pimp, political parties will pay them directly for protection.  Under the auspices of a Google Ads campaign, the search giant turns the screws of the algorytm in your direction.  But a similar amount of money on Google Ads will not bring you the same number of clicks outside of the run up to elections.  People searching for information, looking for answers, don’t idly click on an advert of an article on some news portal they have never heard of.  

I proved the extent of this problem in the past (details here http://alexanderchalkidis.com/blog/?p=18670 ) when a lazy advocate of the technique used a Goo.gl shortener so I could track the number of clicks.  More than 64 thousand paid clicks for an article which was bait.  What they wanted us to read were other, political, articles next to it.  It cost them maybe 7 or 8 thousand Euro to get a topic into the public limelight.  Seems cheap to me!  And – an important added advantage – it is the media equivelant of money laundering.  Nobody needs to know how much you spent.  Sure, they might see your advert plastered on the top of all ads in their personal Facebook profile, but that doesn’t prove anything.    I could have taken out an ad and paid with my personal credit card simply because I am a fanatic reader and wanted to share it with the world.  It is my favorite news portal…

A news portal of course that they probably won’t hear much about after the elections…


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