Report estimates $4.7 billion is only a fraction of earnings Google takes from publishers

FPI / June 12, 2019

Google in 2018 alone received $4.7 billion in revenue “from crawling and scraping news publishers’ content – without paying the publishers for that use,” a new study shows.

“News is a key source on which Google has increasingly relied to drive consumer engagement with its products,” the nonprofit News Media Alliance said in a June 10 press release.

The study, containing analysis conducted by experts at strategy and economics consulting firm Keystone Strategy and written by the News Media Alliance, includes a qualitative overview of Google’s usage of news content, an analysis of the amount of news content on Google Search and Google News, and an estimate of revenue Google receives from news.

The estimates of Google’s revenue made via its use of news content are conservative, the News Media Alliance said.

“The actual value of news content to Google is more difficult to quantify because of the various ways the company uses news content to drive traffic, develop its products and entrench its dominant position. In addition to using news content for product development, such as training its artificial intelligence services, Google is tailoring its products – ramping up its use of news – to keep users in the Google ecosystem,” the press release said.

News Media Alliance President & CEO David Chavern said “The findings clearly point to Google responding to an increase in consumers searching for news, creating and tailoring products that keep users within its ecosystem. This means more money goes back to Google and not the publishers producing the content.”

Corresponding with consumers’ shift toward Google for news consumption, news is becoming increasingly important to Google.

According to the report, since January 2017, traffic from Google Search to news publisher sites rose by more than 25 percent to approximately 1.6 billion visits per week in January 2018.

Bug Google’s media power goes far beyond its search engine.

“Google and the social media titans have virtually confiscated the national advertising market and furthermore attempt to regulate readership traffic flow to independent publishers,” said Robert Morton, president of FreePressFoundation.org.”

Chavern said that “News publishers need to continue to invest in quality journalism, and they can’t do that if the platforms take what they want without paying for it. Information wants to be free, but reporters need to get paid.”

Google’s news products also allow it to capture valuable user data that help it improve its core services, the News Media Alliance said.

According to the report, in 2018, the number of unique monthly visitors in the U.S. to Google News eclipsed that of top news websites such as The New York Times, CNN and Huffington Post.

“We have called for legislation that would provide a limited safe harbor for news publishers to be able to collectively negotiate for better terms with platforms such as Google and Facebook,” Chavern said. “This is the only solution to correcting the current marketplace imbalance, which allows the platforms to dominate the web and related advertising infrastructure, as well as control who sees publishers’ content and when.”

A bill that would accomplish this – The Journalism Competition & Preservation Act – has been introduced in the House (on April 3 by Rep. David Cicilline, Rhode Island Democrat and chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law and ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee Doug Collins, Georgia Republican) and in the Senate (on June 3 by Sens. John Kennedy, Louisiana Republican and Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Democrat and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights).

See the News Media Alliance’s full report here

FPI, Free Press International


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