Press Gazette, a British media trade magazine dedicated to journalism, has begun a campaign to highlight the advertising duopoly that Facebook and Google have established.
Press Gazette launched their campaign today, targeting Facebook and Google for their domination of advertising revenue in recent years. “Imagine if two news publishers dominated digital media in the way that Facebook and Google do,” stated Press Gazette. “The Government would not allow such a duopoly to stand. Campaigners would call for them to be broken up in the name of media plurality.”
Press Gazette notes that by 2020, Google and Facebook are expected to earn 71 percent of all of the money spent in the UK on digital advertising, according to a report by OC&C. Press Gazette believes that this will be devastating for the news industry and society in general. It claims that due to the ever shrinking level of ad revenue received by publishers, publications are forced to hire fewer journalists.
“There is no simple solution,” states Press Gazette, “but broadly we are seeking a fairer deal between news publishers and the digital giants – one which fairly rewards the creators of the content on which these platforms rely. We want Google and Facebook to become more responsible digital citizens, acting in a way that allows diverse digital news sources rather than gorging themselves on all the available digital advertising in a way which will lead smaller players to starve.”
“In 2015 the UK advertising market was worth more than £20bn. Of that, £2.4bn went to national and regional newspapers and their websites and £8.6bn went to online (for which mainly read Google and Facebook),” it continued. “In the space of a decade the share of the UK advertising market going to UK regional and national newspapers has declined from nearly a half to little more than 10 per cent.”
Press Gazette also suggests that Facebook and Google draw up a pre-approved list of publishers that may use their platform without being regarded as fake news. “Google and Facebook need to work harder to clearly identify and promote accurate professionally-produced journalism – clearly distinguishing it from fictional content masquerading as news. This may involve working with regulators as well as the news industry to draw up a white list of sites which reach the necessary standards of accuracy.”
Press Gazette concludes that Facebook and Google require a reformation of their current advertising practices before the “state is forced to intercede” in some way: “Press Gazette’s view is that it would be better for Google and Facebook to reform themselves now before they drift into a situation where the state is forced to intercede. That’s why we have launched a petition aimed at the chief executives of Google and Facebook urging them to return more value to the news industry. Sign it here.“
Press Gazettes article echoes the sentiment of WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell, who recently called for more competition in the advertising marketplace. “What our clients want, and indeed what the agencies want, is more competition in the marketplace, so anything that provides more competition to the duopoly of Facebook and Google,” said Sorrell in an interview with CNBC. “With duopolistic control or influence comes responsibility, and last time I checked Google’s revenues and margins and Facebook’s revenues and margins, they were certainly, I look at them with some degree of envy, it’s true… With authority or position comes a responsibility, and they have got to step up and take responsibility.”