The competition watchdog’sproposed code of conduct for business relationships between digital platforms and Australian media companiesis a “sensible idea” says Richard Gingras, Google’s vice-president of news, however the search and advertising giant does not believe revenue sharing should be included.
He spoke as the technology and media sectors in Australia are awaiting the government’s response to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Digital Platforms Inquiry, which is due later this year.
“I think the commission’s report and analysis was in many regards helpful in understanding the differences and understanding areas that maybe deserved attention versus those that did not,” Mr Gingras said.
“The idea, for instance, of guiding the industry with codes of conduct, that to us is a sensible thing. Obviously determining exactly how one handles that … you need to get into the details.
“In spite of all the challenges in the ecosystem, I have to admit, I think we’re comfortable that we have been and continue to be trying to do the right thing in all of these dimensions.”
Clicks instead of revenue
Google Australia managing director Melanie Silvaargued last month Google was doing its part by providing three billion or referrals to Australian media companies from its platform.
Both Google and Facebook have come under significant scrutiny in Australia and internationally for their impact on journalism and the business models underpinning it.
Facebook on Friday announced its new Facebook News tab in the US alongside News Corp chief executive andlong-time criticRobert Thomson. The new tab has 200 “trusted” publishers participating, with some receiving between $US1 million ($1.45 million) and $US3 million for sharing their news content.
“I think every internet platform has a responsibility to try to help fund and form partnerships to support news,” Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said in the fireside chat with Mr Thomson last week.
In December 2017,Google and Fairfax Media struck an agreement for the US tech behemoth to sell and market programmatic advertisingacross the websites ofThe Sydney Morning Herald,The Age,WATodayand theBrisbane Times,and across the publisher’s lifestyle brands. In December 2018, Fairfax merged with Nine. The deal was the first of its kind for Google.
“It’s not appropriate for me to assess or comment on what Facebook is doing or not doing in the evolution of their history,” Mr Gingras said. “As [Zuckerberg] mentions internet platforms, I think it’s immensely important to recognise that this is not a generic term.”
“There are different kinds of instances of what a platform is. Facebook is a private platform … our platform with Google, with Google Search, with Google News, with our ad technologies is the open web.”
Mr Gingras said Google has offered huge value to news publishers for multiple years, pointing to the search referrals, $US14.5 billion paid to publishers via the use of its ad technologies and the Google News Initiative, where it earmarked $US300 million for products and partnerships across journalism.
Mr Gingras previously said Google does not accept payment to be included in search results but it does sell clearly marked ads, which was one reason they don’t pay publishers when people clink on news website links in search results.
“We’re very comfortable with the amount of commitment that we’ve made towards making sure that there is a healthy ecosystem for news,” he said.
“We will continue to do that and continue to enhance those efforts, until we all get to that place where there is a sustainable ecosystem for news and I have no doubt for that being the case, it’s just a question of getting there.”