Media organizations are banding together to earn more from the online advertisement revenue market, which is dominated by tech companies Google and Facebook.
Including media giants like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, the coalition known as the News Media Alliance (NMA) is petitioning federal lawmakers to provide them an exemption from antitrust regulations, according to multiple reports. Such a reclassification would allow media organizations to collectively negotiate with the two tech conglomerates, which is important for the industry’s attempts to earn more ad revenue and end Google and Facebook’s hegemony.
The two tech conglomerates combined account for roughly 90 percent of the growth in new advertising revenue, according to market research company eMarketer, and roughly 50 percent of the current global digital ad market. The companies dwarf all other corporations in the industry, with Google and Facebook respectively making $80.8 billion and $36.3 billion in 2017.
NMA, which represents over 2,000 newspapers in the U.S., says due to competition rules on the books, they are are not allowed to work together, thus indirectly enabling a duopoly to transpire and persist. (RELATED: Facebook’s Path To Ad Dominance Comes With A Litany Of Allegations)
“The two digital giants don’t employ reporters: They don’t dig through public records to uncover corruption, send correspondents into war zones, or attend last night’s game to get the highlights,” David Chavern, president and chief executive of the NMA wrote in an op-ed published Sunday. “They expect an economically squeezed news industry to do that costly work for them.”
NMA isn’t the first media entity to cry foul over the two tech companies hogging digital ad revenue.
Press Gazette, a British media outlet, launched a petition in April in an attempt to stop Facebook and Google from “destroying journalism.”
“We are concerned that your commercial dominance will drive news publishers who increasingly rely on digital advertising out of business,” the petition reads, directly addressing the two companies. “This will be bad for you (because you will no longer be able to use their content) and bad for society because we will all be less well informed.” (RELATED: Google, Facebook Are Super Upset They May No Longer Be Able To Sell Your Internet Data Without Permission)
Press Gazette editor Dominic Ponsford, who is representing his organization and wrote the statement announcing the official petition, doesn’t think it’s fair that journalists and other media employees help create all of the content, but receive very little for their work.
While the Press Gazette bluntly called out Facebook, Google, and their leaders for “destroying journalism” and called for the larger public’s help, Chavern says the NMA is not specifically directing their appeal towards any lawmakers or legislative committees — at least yet.
“We are just starting to work the Hill,” NMA Chairman Michael J. Klingensmith, publisher and CEO of the Minneapolis Star Tribune Media, told Axios.
Klingensmith, and the NMA in general, want a more empowered sense of ownership over their content.
Only fifty-six percent of people can recall the news outlet they ultimately landed on for a news story, according to a Pew Research Center study, at least partially implying that many news-consumers originally browse from a larger platform and then easily lose track. In fact, 10 percent of people wrote in “Facebook” as the particular news outlet and source when asked in the study. (RELATED: Pelosi, Who Receives Donations From Google And Facebook, Pressures Cable Companies To Support Privacy Regs)
Campbell Brown, former CNN anchor and Head of News Partnerships at Facebook, told Axios that the firm is “committed to helping quality journalism thrive on Facebook.”
Google also said something similar.
“We want to help news publishers succeed as they transition to digital,” a Google spokesperson told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “In recent years we’ve built numerous specialized products and technologies, developed specifically to help distribute, fund, and support newspapers. This is a priority and we remain deeply committed to helping publishers with both their challenges, and their opportunities.”
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