The Gen Z-focused publisher abandoning Meta platforms

Jason Pollock
By Jason Pollock | 18 June 2024
Lauren Meisner.

Meta's decision to end paying Australian publishers for premium content saw predictions of "potentially catastrophic" consequences and calls to abandon the platform by a range of independent publishers, rifts in an industry body over Meta being designated under the News Bargaining Code and the ACCC being asked by the government to investigate.

Centennial World, an independent publisher covering creators and internet culture, made the decision to stop publishing on Meta-owned platforms about six months ago and before the current row over Meta.

Lauren Meisner, who founded the brand, said that was partly because of changes that may happen around regulation, but also related to trends she observed from Centennial World's Gen-Z focused audience over the years.

"For us, we haven't been affected by what's happening with Meta, because we never really prioritised Instagram," she told AdNews.

"Our audience is very online and they're very Gen Z, so they wanted to consume the type of content that we create on TikTok, podcasts, YouTube - that kind of stuff.

"We would post Reels [on Instagram] and it was just not the same return on investment for us so we decided with all the impending stuff with Meta to just cut the cord."

The Centennial World team work across the tech, beauty and lifestyle categories, through cross-network content partnerships, hosting, brand activations and Gen Z research and consulting.

Currently, the publisher reaches over 2 million Gen Zs each month across TikTok, YouTube, Pinterest, Spotify and Apple Podcasts, with more than 12 million likes and 13 million monthly views across TikTok alone.

Meisner said in terms of independent media in general in Australia, she has a lot of close friends who will be "impacted greatly" if all of the predicted changes happen.

"There's indie publishers that have audiences on Instagram and the audiences want to get news from them on Instagram, so I think this will impact them greatly.

"I'm from Canada, where they’ve done that already, so if they do cut that here, I don't think it will impact the big publishers all that much, but new-age media is often social first, so that will just decimate the indies."

A study from Deloitte Insights revealed that 50% of Gen Z say they get news daily from social media feeds or messaging services; 66% of Gen Z teens who follow news or current affairs say most of the news they consume is from alerts and notifications on their mobile devices; and 50%+ of Gen Z news consumers say they consume news on their smartphones exclusively.

Due to de-prioritising the likes of Facebook and Instagram, one avenue Centennial World have instead opted to lean into is weekly newsletters, something Meisner says the brand has seen "really good engagement" on. 

"In terms of subscribers, we get a lot of marketers and a lot of people that work in social who want to keep up with the trends and what's happening online, whereas I would say our consumer audience is more so on podcasts and TikTok," she said.

"We’ve seen many more signups [to the newsletter] since all the Meta stuff has come down the line, but this is just a good lesson to all of us that if you build your platform or your company off of someone else's company, we still need to have original content and be producing things that we own.

"When it comes to the consequences of the Meta ban, it won't just be the publishers that lose out, but it will also be the audiences because a lot of young people are not firing up their laptop and going on Chrome and typing in different websites to hear about the news. They're scrolling TokTok or they're scrolling Instagram."

Meisner said there's been "a lot of interest" in Centennial World's internet culture podcast Infinite Scroll that tallies in excess of 50,000 monthly listens

"We had a lot of conversations with advertisers recently who had previously spent with us on-site or on TikTok and are now really focused on podcasts this year," she told AdNews.

"Because there's a misconception that it's more challenging to track the ROI on podcast advertising. I think some brands have been apprehensive, but from the conversations that we've had, a lot of our advertisers are moving from site banner ads or advertorial plays to wanting to work with us on the podcast."

IAB Australia’s Australian Audio State of the Nation Report found that 61% of agencies surveyed plan to lift spend in streaming audio and 64% of them in podcasts.

57% of Gen Z’s podcast listening has grown by 57% in the last five years, 66% of Gen Z listeners use podcasts to stay updated on the latest topics and 43% of Gen Z listeners aged 18 and above have purchased a product after hearing a podcast ad, according to the SXM Media & Edison Research Gen Z Podcast Listener Report.

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