Come on Google, Facebook, it’s time to start paying for content

May 22, 2017
Industry News
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‘This powerful duopoly has no need to pay for what it is getting in abundance for nothing but let’s see how this develops’
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Stephen Vines

As Spiderman has so sagaciously reminded us – “with great power, comes great responsibility”, except, apparently if you run Google and Facebook, which together account for a staggering half of worldwide digital advertising revenues yet claim to have no responsibility for what appears on their platforms.

Both organisations have stoutly maintained that they are tech companies, implying that somehow the question of responsibility for content lies elsewhere. That claim is being challenged in a way that hurts, by their advertisers, including very big names such as HSBC, L’Oreal and the UK government, who say that as long as their ads are vulnerable to appearing alongside unacceptable content they will be deploying their advertising budgets elsewhere. The British supermarket chain J. Sainsbury is among them after seeing its ads placed alongside videos advocating terrorism.

Sir Martin Sorrell, Chief Executive of WPP, one of the world’s biggest advertising companies, got it right in saying that “Google and Facebook and other media corporations have the same responsibilities as any other media company. They cannot masquerade as technology companies, particularly when they place advertisements”.

At the time of writing Google has moved to assure advertisers that they will have some say over where their advertisements appear however Facebook has yet to comment.

The big issue, as highlighted by Sir Martin, remains unresolved because not only are companies like Google and Facebook providing a platform but they are also, in reality, the world’s largest media companies. However they want a free ride not only on policies governing their main source of income, which is advertising, but also on the provision of content, large amounts of which is derived from the so-called traditional media that continue to pay the cost of creating this content. Continue Reading
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