Google to Pay for the News?

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This Week
June 30, 2020
Google to Pay for the News?
Some Harsh Truths in EC’s Rosy GDPR Assessment
Marketer Ad Spend Down, Tech Spend Up
Google to Pay for the News?
After years of refusing to pay publishers for news content, Google has reversed its stance. Last week the company announced deals to pay select publishers in Germany, Australia and Brazil for content—including material behind paywalls—as part of a forthcoming news initiative. It’s a move reminiscent of Facebook’s revamped news tab that launched a few weeks ago with the addition of local news and video,

This announcement follows a recent win by France’s Competition Authority in April that ordered Google pay publishers for news. If you remember back in September 2019, Google refused to pay French publishers for linking to their news content after finding a loophole in France’s version of a pan-EU copyright directive. In Spain, Google News was entirely shut down in an effort to get around paying for news.

And just last month, the tech giant raised a middle finger at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission‘s call to pay out $600m/year to publishers for appearing in news searches, arguing that the company’s profits from those searches were minuscule and that publishers actually benefited more from appearing in search.
Why This Matters
Why would Google all of the sudden change its hard-balling when it comes to paying publishers for content? For one, there are growing antitrust investigations in the US and EU. After France’s win and Australia on the road to doing the same, Google could be throwing publishers some cash to show good faith.

This seems to be a hot trend right now—after a rollercoaster relationship with publishers, Facebook announced in 2019 it would pay some content providers to stock its News tab. We’ve long suggested that social media platforms should be paying publishers for the chance to monetize their high-quality content in a similar fashion to how multiplatform video distributors pay carriage fees to television networks (and yes, Rupert Murdoch is a fan of this concept as well). Now that The New York Times is ditching Apple News, which has a notorious reputation when it comes to monetization, perhaps that platform will consider carriage fees. (Apple News+ has an algorithm-based revenue share that does not seem in a pub’s best interest.)

We could be witnessing a major sea change here in the relationship between social media and content “gatekeepers” (cough, cough, search engines) and premium publishers… One that’s been long overdue.
Some Harsh Truths in EC’s Rosy GDPR Assessment
To celebrate the second anniversary of GDPR’s activation, the European has done a (required) self-assessment and has concluded that “EU data protection rules empower citizens and are fit for the digital age.”

Ugh—we read a lot of press releases, but that title made us gag a bit.

Let’s skip past all the “empowerment” propaganda and get to the trouble areas. The Financial Times (pretty sure it’s subscription required) got hold of a draft copy of the report which noted the rollout was filled with confusion over how the rules applied at the country level and a “lack of consistent approach” in interpretation. Complying with GDPR has been difficult for small and medium-sized companies, and there’s little clarity into how the regulation applies to emerging technologies like AI and the Internet of Things.
Why This Matters
“Oh, ya think?” reply most people in digital media. Still, the guidelines going forward offer a fair deal of prescriptions on easing the burdens on smaller organizations, and most important, prescriptive steps for harmonizing approaches between member country Data Protection Authorities. We can give the EC credit for recognizing the biggest weak points of the law and working to strengthen them.

Though confusion in applying the law to emerging technologies is pretty worrisome… And also whatever happened to the highly dreaded ePrivacy Directive? Apparently it’s stumbling forward...
Marketer Ad Spend Down, Tech Spend Up
Image source AdExchanger
It’s no longer news that most marketers have slowed down or completely paused their ad spend in the face of the pandemic, causing a painful second quarter for publishers of all stripes. Still, there’s hope for a spend rebound in the second half of 2020, and new research from AdExchanger might just make folks optimistic.

According to the report 74% of marketers said they would increase ad investments or keep them level in the second half of the year. Fifty-three percent of brands expect moderate to significant increases in the back half, compared to 50% of agencies. Meanwhile, agencies are more optimistic about company growth than brands, with 45% of agencies saying they were very optimistic compared to only 36% of brands.

The pandemic may have put the brakes on ad spend, but it didn’t stop marketers from thinking about their ad tech and martech stacks. More than half are stepping up their supply partner reevaluation process and close to half are either maintaining or increasing investments in martech, ad tech and data.
Why This Matters
It’s intriguing—and encouraging—to see that the pandemic didn’t slow down many marketers’ goals to enhance their tech stacks in the face of a crumbling cookie and expanding privacy regulations. Marketers growing concern about how measurement and audience targeting will work has only become more pressing since the pandemic began.

As both publishers and marketers are scrambling to find solutions for identity resolution, there’s no time like the present for marketers to get serious about their first-party data and how they can unleash that data and make it more robust with vendor solutions.

By the way, there’s far more deep insight into marketer’s plans for the second half of the year in AdExchanger’s report (we have an inside connection!)—you should really check out the whole thing.
Sweet Tweet
Which ad trade will be first to run with the headline...

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