I’m old enough to remember the days when a large audience ensured large revenues.
That was before the Internet.
I found out the hard way by being the first independent media entrepreneur some 21 years ago.
It was no problem for WorldNetDaily.com, as we were known back then, establishing a large audience. We were different from anything out there in attitude, perspective, worldview, news judgment. We emphasized exposing government waste, fraud, abuse and corruption and championing constitutionally limited government.
But did it translate into meaningful advertising revenues?
Back then, virtually all of the limited dollars spent on digital advertising went to dominant search engines – the biggest of which was Yahoo!
Today, even though the digital advertising pie is much, much larger, even eclipsing television, companies like Facebook and Google dominate in revenues – to the point at which the U.S. government should really consider anti-trust actions against them. In the retail arena, it’s time for a look at Amazon as well.
While I believe in limited government, I also believe there are good reasons for anti-trust actions – especially those necessary to preserve free speech in the new digital public square.
Google and Facebook do just that through their ever-changing algorithms designed to give extreme preference to publishers they like and penalize those they don’t like.
These monopoly cartels are beginning to represent an existential threat to the emerging independent media that certainly made it possible for Donald Trump to become president.
Don’t just take my word for it. Listen to what the investment management firm GroupM said Sunday: The dominance of Facebook and Google “is exceedingly bad news for the balance of the digital publisher ecosystem.”
How dominant are these two entities?
Facebook and Google will capture a phenomenal 84 percent of the digital ad spend worldwide this year as the two online companies account for all of the growth in Internet advertising this year, according to GroupM.
Since the two monopolies are not only grabbing all the new money advertisers are spending but are also taking share from the competition, GroupM says they will account for “186 percent of digital growth in 2017.”
That’s at a time in which Internet advertising has overtaken television on a global basis, accounting for 37.3 percent compared with 34.3 percent. TV peaked in 2012, when it accounted for 39.3 percent of all advertising.
Things won’t change for the independent media next year, even though the Internet’s share of advertising globally will reach 40 percent and 44 percent in 2020, when it hits $225 billion in ad spending.
Because Google and Facebook are truly monopolies under the spell of left-wing sensibilities. There’s no other way to say it. They penalize those entities producing content they don’t like – no matter how large their audiences might be. They even shortchange those independent publishers on referral traffic.
One could argue these monster corporations have a “right” to do that, but only if you support monopoly capitalism, ironically an idea so-called “progressives” find theoretically repulsive.
One of the highest ideals both Google and Facebook say they uphold is “diversity.” But the diversity genie seems to take a backseat when it comes to the most important kind of diversity in a free society – diverse viewpoints.
Maybe this sounds like sour grapes coming from the pioneer of independent digital news-gathering.
Maybe it is.
But maybe it’s more than that – because my company is hardly the only one not seeing its “fair share” of advertising revenue based on audience. All independent media are in the same boat. We’re all facing an existential threat at the hands of the Google-Facebook cartel.
None of us is actually making any money. And now you know why. The playing field is not level.