Monday, November 06, 2017

Heard the one about the Google man, the Facebook man and the Twitter man?

I HAVE and it’s no joke, especially if you run a business that is haemorrhaging ad revenue to the digital giants while they also take advantage of everybody else’s freely available content.
Henry Faure Walker, chief executive of regional publisher Newsquest, accused the web giants of “free-riding off of the great content that professional publishers produce” for years, adding: “If we are lucky we get a few crumbs off the table.”
ANIMATED: Henry Faure Walker from Newsquest
We’re at the Digital Journalism Summit 2017, held at News UK’s swanky headquarters in London Bridge, where media professionals from seasoned exponents to wide-eyed wannabes are eager to catch the latest trends and hear what those in the know really know.
Conference organiser and editor of Press Gazette, Dominic Ponsford, did a great job assembling representatives from all three digital behemoths that added an extra frisson to the expectation in the room. As one tweeted: “Panel of Google, Facebook and Twitter... suspect they may feel a bit of hostility from the room.”
Sadly for the non-combatants in the audience there was no blood on the conference floor. There were few answers from the assembled triumvirate – in fact it’s now getting difficult to even remember what the questions are.
Even when needled by Ponsford who asked what their thoughts were on Press Gazette’s Duopoly campaign calling on Google and Facebook to ‘stop destroying journalism’, Google’s UK director of news partnerships Madhav Chinnappa said he “did not accept the premise of the campaign”.
He said: “When it comes to display advertising, Google is a supplier, that means we only make money when publishers make money so we want that to grow. We are part of that ecosystem.”
Patrick Walker, Facebook’s head of media partnerships, said that a lot of the money the platform had been making from digital advertising was from new advertisers.
“The world is moving very quickly. This is explosion of digital advertising is an opportunity open to everyone,” said Walker. He also pointed to work Facebook was doing to help news outlets sell subscriptions on the platform and through the Facebook Journalism Project.
Meanwhile, out there in the real digital world Mary Hamilton posted a valedictory piece entitled ‘13 things I learned from six years at the Guardian’ from her time there as executive editor, audience.
Coming in at No 7 was: Platforms are not strategies, and they won’t save news.
“If someone else’s algorithm change could kill your traffic and/or your business model, then you’re already dead,” Hamilton wrote. “Google and Facebook are never going to subsidise news providers directly, and nor should they. Stop waiting for someone to make it go back to the way it was before.”

  • A full conference report appears in the next issue of Production Journal. To subscribe click here 

ALAN GEERE has been to the summit but also toiled in the foothills of journalism in his 40-year career. E: T: @alangeere

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