Google on why it doesn't pay publishers to display their news in search

Mariam Cheik-Hussein
By Mariam Cheik-Hussein | 4 May 2020
Mel Silva

Google’s local boss Mel Silva has responded to the federal governments’ decision to move to a mandatory code of conduct between news publishers and digital platforms.

Last month the government asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to form a code to govern the relationship between tech giants and news publishers to help ensure publishers are paid for their content.

Silva says Google will continue to work with publishers on the issue, but that it doesn’t directly make money from news search results, only from the ads alongside it.

“ has no ads, nor does the news results tab on the search page. And even more broadly, searches for journalistic related queries are a very small proportion of all searches and very rarely return ads,” Silva, MD for Google Australia says.

Silva also says that both Google and news publishers benefit from the current arrangement, where Google pushes news content for free to users.

“In the offline print world, publishers have long paid retailers, newsstands and kiosks to distribute their newspapers and magazines - acknowledging the value of acquiring audiences to a publishers’ content and the advertising publishers sell alongside it,” Silva says.

“Publishers provide posters with headlines for newsagents to display in their windows to help draw customers to buy papers.

“In contrast, Google Search sends readers from Australia and all over the world to the publishers’ sites for free - helping them to generate advertising revenues from those audiences and convert them into paying subscribers.”

However, while Google says it sent more than two billion visits to Australian news sites from Australian users, and a further billion visits from users outside Australia in 2018 alone, they’ve also taken a significant portion of publishers’ advertising revenue.

The ACCC found that in the same year, Google and Facebook together consumed more than half of all online advertising spend, excluding classified ads. That means for every $100 spent online, $47 went to Google and $24 to Facebook, leaving publishers to fight for the remaining $29.

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