The media industry is in a bind: It increasingly depends on Facebook and Google to push its content to the masses, but receives very little in comparison to the gobs of money the two tech giants bring in from ad revenue.
A newspaper group — including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post — is now looking to push back against the tech “duopoly” to which they are beholden. The group wants federal lawmakers to grant an exemption from antitrust rules, allowing the outlets to negotiate collectively with Google and Facebook.
News organizations and content creators are simply being demolished by the two tech behemoths when it comes to raking in ad revenue. While they receive a cut of the advertising pie, outlets are now pressing Facebook and Google for a bigger slice.
To put the dominance of the Silicon Valley firms into perspective, here are five facts:
1. Facebook and Google accounted for 85 percent of the all growth in internet ad revenue in 2016, according to the latest Meeker report — an industry staple.
2. The same report showed Facebook and Google raked in $60 billion in ad revenue in the USA alone last year.
3. For comparison, newspapers made $52.6 billion worldwide for print ads in 2016. (Yeah, that’s a higher figure than we thought it would be, too.)
4. The two companies are poised to continue whittling away the newspaper industry when it comes to making money: They’re set to combine for more than $106 billion in online ad sales this year, with Google hauling in $72.7 billion and Facebook “only” bringing in $33.8 billion.
5. In short, Google and Facebook make more than all papers, radio networks and magazines combined.
There are a few outcomes in play here, now.
Facebook and Google are dependent on newspapers and other creators to generate content, so they could throw them a bone and offer a better revenue share. Theoretically, if heavy hitters like Washington Post and the New York Times all decided to pull their content from Facebook, it’d certainly impact Mark Zuckerberg’s business. Losing reputable news sources would be a loss of cachet for the platform — not to mention, time spent on the network.
On the other hand, Facebook and Google can tell the news industry to pound sand and deal with the current arrangement. Right now, the outlets need the social media firehose more than the other way around.
What we’re inevitably heading toward, it seems, is one of these tech juggernauts buying a major news outlet… or two or three. And that might ultimately be the best opportunity for news groups to get in on the swelling coffers of Facebook and Google — that is, if they get bought.