News content

White paper shows Google’s continued use and abuse of news content, why we need competition law and preserving journalism

Staff | News/Media Alliance

The News/Media Alliance released an in-depth research paper, “How Google Abuses Its Position as the Dominant Marketplace Platform to Empower News Publishers and Hurt Journalism,” in which countless publishers news were interviewed and detailed how Google has used and abused news content. over several years by exercising its dominance to force news publishers to give away their content, while benefiting Google. New revelations include anti-competitive behavior between Google and Facebook to further cement their market dominance.

Like most industries, the news media has made business decisions that impact revenue and the business landscape. All these decisions did not bear fruit. One such decision was made nearly 20 years ago to allow news content to be used on search and social platforms when the exchange of value was fair and the traffic generated revenue through advertising. . However, today, this exchange of value is almost non-existent. It has been reported that 65% of users stay in walled gardens and do not click. And when few people click on it, the ad tech tax is imposed, where platforms absorb up to 70% of every digital ad dollar, as they also dominate the data-driven ad tech ecosystem. collected in their products and on the web. There is no longer a fair exchange of value, and no publisher alone can change this dynamic.

The whitepaper outlines several ways Google uses news content to its advantage — and to the detriment of news publishers — across all of its products and services:

  • The use of news content through AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), Google Discover, the Google News app, Google Assistant and Search has become a “walled garden” in which publishers and consumers are increasingly forced or encouraged to stay.
  • Evidence that AMP, in which users read articles served by Google, benefits the platform at the expense of news publishers who lose ad revenue, reader data, and subscribers to organic search.
  • The terms of use are exclusive and anti-competitive under which consent to use a product’s content irrevocably binds the publisher to other products and services, some of which compete directly with publishers’ offerings. news.
  • New evidence presented to the courts of anti-competitive practices around “header bidding” – an auction tool that competes with Google, producing a higher payout for publishers – has been discouraged by Google as an intentional move to enhance its financial gain in advertising auctions.
  • Revelations that Facebook drastically reduced its use of header auctions in exchange for Google giving Facebook a head start in web display publishers and developers in ad app auctions, allocating a portion of gains to Facebook and helping Facebook’s advertising network, FAN, beat the competition.

As we approach the Senate markup of the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) (the Senate text was released in late August and it has been placed on the agenda of the Senate Judiciary Committee for markup on September 8), critics of the bill referred to it. as a way to “prop up an industry that has largely failed to address its business issues” unrelated to the platforms. The White Paper proves that this is not the case. If platforms were to come to the table and negotiate with news publishers fair compensation for the use of their content, as the JCPA clarifies, that would address at least one critical element of the gross market imbalance with dominant platforms.

Danielle Coffey, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of the News/Media Alliance, said, “Google derives revenue from valuable news content by deliberately and consistently providing personalized information to users to keep them in their walled gardens. This powers their reader data fetching engine to sell their information and target them with advertisements. Coffey continued, “There is little bargaining power left and as a result news publishers are forced to agree to almost unlimited uses of their content in exchange for crumbs to cover the huge investments needed to produce quality journalism. . If this continues, the production of quality local news content will be irreparably affected.

In the white paper, the Alliance recommends passage of the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, which would allow news publishers to collectively negotiate fair compensation from tech platforms.

The white paper is available here.