The content profit squeeze - publishers held to ransom

By Sarah Homewood and Lindsay Bennett | 5 September 2016
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“Google is holding publishers for ransom. It’s a terrible situation for publishers whereby they are trying to monetise their content, but then Google demands the article is given away for free. As a publisher you pretty much know Facebook and Google are going to screw you, you just don’t know how yet.”

That’s an extreme point of view recently shared with AdNews by someone in a top ranking commercial role at a publisher in Australia, but it underpins some of the widely−held concerns about the sustainability of the current content economy.

Traditional revenue streams are under siege. Increasing automation, new ad units and inventory, the shift to mobile, viewability and ad fraud are all intersecting. The current publishing landscape is a melting pot of complexity and publishers are being forced to rationalise what this means for their businesses long−term. The content audiences consume is decided by algorithms and largely accessed through closed ecosystems hiving off advertising revenue that in a previous life would have gone directly to the publishers. Content creators are broadly forced to conform to this new world order because it's where the audiences are.

Google and Facebook have created what appears to be an impenetrable duopoly. They own the audiences, they own the data and they have almost unquestioning attention from advertisers. Are Australian content creators living on borrowed time?

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