The launch of Paper is directly targeting Google News, Flipboard, Twitter and other more visually centric news services. The key differentiator for Facebook is by integrating core functionality (engage and post across the Facebook ecosystem, native functionality like messages and notifications) combined with a highly visual curated user experience, it goes beyond the simple utility of consuming news into an engaging experience built on top of Facebook's social graph.
Here is a brief video overview of the app
Having talked to numerous Facebook representatives it appears that there is NOT YET an opportunity for brands to create a unique experience or impact the curated content in categories… the key word is yet. The following section is speculative based on potential directions Facebook may take the Paper application to create value for brands and potentially monetize the platform.
WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL BRAND OPPORTUNITIES WITH PAPER?
Having worked closely with Facebook over the years I am projecting that in the near future there may be opportunities for content rich brands to infiltrate the experience with the goal of driving content discovery. Below are a few thoughts on how content rich brands may be able to leverage Paper in the future.
1) Category Inclusion - As the application gains adoption, there will be an increased desire from content rich brands to be included in specific category feeds. I would project that their may be a tiered approach to content positioning based on relationship factors such as Facebook media spend.
At this point there is not any type of self serve option or a rep based option to influence the content sources for each category. The natural next step is to expand the categories and sources or allow groups to create and curate their own categories. Very similar to how Flipboard (For more information on Flipboard, here is a previously written article on how to incorporate Flipboard into your content strategy) enables brands by allowing them to create custom curated brand magazines.
Here is an example of the Paper category user experience
Here is a brand example of a Flipboard Custom Curated Magazine
2) Recommendation Engine - Going beyond simple inclusion would be the coveted ability to gain visibility through a category recommendation engine. This could be in the form of category/content specific feeds. An example would be creating a “Gaming” category and having a content provider such as Game Informer feeding relevant content.
Example of Google+ Recommendation Engine
Example of OutBrain's Content recommendation engine
3) Sponsored Content - This will most likely mimic some of the native advertising approaches we see from other native publishers. Eventually I would expect sponsored content to become the primary monetization option for the application.
Example from Buzzfeed and Sponsored stories inserted into the organic “news” streams
4) Social Graph Enabled Personalization - Facebook Paper is more focused on discovery vs. personalization and the initial roll-out reflects this approach. The Paper application is more about self-selection from the user against predefined categories vs. customizing their curated feeds. Over time there may be an opportunity for the application to be more connected with a users social graph and personalize the news experience in a more targeted manner. This could lead to further aligning targeted media based on consumption habits of the apps users to create a truly personal experience.
If this were the case the value to brands is the ability to potentially target specific messaging to drive engagement into conversion.
5) Geolocation Based Content - Another area of opportunity would be associating content recommendations based on location. This could either be curated location based content that is relevant through your social graph connections or simply mapped to a specific location with relevant news and tips.
One of the core benefits of Facebook as a platform is the ability to connect with local content that matters. Including geolocation based content could extend the reach of the platform to support event specific content and drive additional value for brands sponsorship dollars. An ideal use case could be to create curated feeds tied to an individuals NCAA College Football preferences and inject native sponsorship messaging into the experience that outlines where the sponsor may be setting up during gameday with a compelling value proposition.
Here is an example of the AT&T Fanzone Tour. A new point of discovery could be a personalized sports category that also aligns content recommendations based on locations with events that can enhance gameday and provide great value for sponsorship dollars
All of this is speculative, and Paper may go the route of Home & Poke but it is fun to think about the possibilities of extending the Facebook ecosystem. If the application drives a healthy install base eventually content rich brands will become a more prominent part of the equation.
Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360