There were the times when viral content was the ubiquitous topic. However, its popularity has started vanishing out of the spot. Who’s to blame? Or maybe it’s for the best? We’ll see.


Hello, Viral, What’s Wrong?

Maybe you’ve heard about the viral content companies like ViralNova or Distractify. Before, they were able to gain huge audience by sharing relevant and funny content via Facebook. But now, with the Facebook algorithms changed, they have stumped. Without ability to track down the views and eliminate any forgery, these companies encountered a substantial fall in their figures.

The first of the kind was the company called Upworthy who made its fortune on clickbait and emotional content. Thus, by the end of 2013 its general attendance varied circa 45-85 million monthly. Taking into account this unprecedented growth, similar companies have started to appear on the horizon. Hence, the market was born but now it is complete mess. The majority of these enterprises, including Funtista, ViralNova and KnowMore, have been silent for a year now and their figures are worse than ever.


Who Survived?


Nevertheless, someone could cope with traffic declines. Obviously, it is Upworthy, the “veteran” of the market. Their main tool is attracting people via social media. From October 2015, their attendance has risen from 7,9 million users to 10,1 million, and it is considerable growth. By relying more on branded content than on ordinary monetized advertising tools, Upworthy produces revenue and proves that it can’t be beaten.

Unfortunately, not all the viral content mongers have the access to these channels. Moreover, the monetizing opportunities are really few and that makes the bubble burst.

According to Newswhip, the prosperous publishers still witness increase in the interaction between users and their Facebook articles. But this data can’t be considered truthful, because the difference between Instant Articles and webpage articles is not taken into account. Therefore, even if the figures show, that Facebook interaction is good, other sources like SimilarWeb or comScore would still state that the situation is lamentable. For example, has gained up to 20 million interactions on Facebook, according to Newswhip. However, that doesn’t negate the fact that, maybe, the overall viewability is not as good.


The Main Obstacles

A lot of sites have their traffic come undone at the seams. One of the main reasons for that was the Facebook algorithm change, which gives priority to friends’ posts over publishers’ posts. The other reason is that the rise of viral content companies was substantially more rapid than the development of the user platforms, which just couldn’t handle this amount of people.

Deep Focus CEO, Ian Shafer, states that respectable advertisers gave up on viral publishers. Eventually, it just didn’t make any financial sense for them. New social media policy doesn’t let them gain money. In addition to that, viewability and fraud become considerable issues in that context.



However, not everything’s that bad

Is there any way to deal with it? Stephanie Estes, digital strategy director at Cramer-Krasselt, provides an example. If they create inspirational native ads and they want them to work well in the web, hiring feel-good publishers is a good thing. But to reach scale and attract users to the website it is more preferable to use reliable sources like TripleLift or Sharethrough.

In general, it may seem that everything is in bad circumstances. However, there is one company that has encountered substantial growth quite recently. LittleThings is rising to the top while their monthly traffic ascends by 10% and their revenue is expected to rise from 25$ dollars in 2015 to 50$ million in 2016. Firstly, they dwell on creation rather than curation of content. Secondly, they have a special algorithm of evaluation of whether the content is viral and viable or not. LittleThings president Gretchen Tibbits is sure that recent increase is due to their abstinence from content related to the recent presidential election in the USA.

The situation on the viral content market is still uncertain. Who knows what will happen next? Will this once-upon-a-time hot trend face away into obscurity or will it find a way to overcome this crisis? We’ll see.

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