Facebook has launched an Australian version of its ‘Today In’ local news service, with 10 regional cities taing part in the initial trial.
Announced in the US with six cities in January this year before expanding to a further 25, the Today In news service aims to deliver local news, events and announcements to your feed, with the original service being vetted by Facebook Staff.
The regional cities included in the Australian launch include Ballarat, Bendigo, Canberra, Geelong, Gold Coast, Hobart, Newcastle, Toowoomba, Townsville and Wollongong. Users in those cities will be able to see all the local community news in a separate tab located within the app. The launch of Facebook’s Australian ‘today in’ local news service is the first international country to have the service rolled out in.
Facebook’s news partnership lead for Australia and New Zealand, Andrew Hunter, has told Mumbrella how the 10 regional cities were selected for the initial roll out:
There were a few criteria. One was the size of the place, so we’re looking for places with up to 500,000 monthly Facebook users – small to medium-sized towns.
We’re also looking at the amount of content that’s coming out of those geographies as well. How much news content is coming out on a daily basis, what sort of groups information there is, how active the groups are. Events are another part.
We have done research showing people in Australia are particularly interested in local news and information. Our research shows that there’s a particular affiliation for this type of content.
The fact it’s an English language market also helps. We hope that this is going to be a global product, so the decision has been made to extend it to Australia first.
Hunter also told mumbrella that he thinks that the ‘today in’ local news service launch into these regional cities, will not affect already cash strapped regional media outlets who are doing it extra tough when it comes to readership and advertising dollars, saying that:
“There’s no advertising in ‘today in’. We’re effectively using what is a new place on Facebook to effectively showcase local news information.
“People can click on the links and go to the local news site where the publisher can monetise that.
“This is distribution for Facebook over and above news feed. People will see an update in news feed and then opt into ‘today in’, which is a separate place on the site or app to news feed.
“There is no extra effort news organisations have to put into this product to be part of it. If they’re producing local news and publishing it to their Facebook page, we will aggregate it.”
Facebook users in these launch regional cities can also opt in to receive regular updates from ‘Today in’ news service, which would be pushed out just like normal Facebook notifications you may currently get which will highlight the most popular and important headlines and information. This feature will be in addition to local news in Facebook’s current news feed and on publishers’ pages.
There is an update rolling out to users in general and should you live in either one of the cities you can try out the new ‘today in’ service and we would like to know your thoughts on this new feature. Let us now in the comments below your thoughts.