Google has flatly denied accusations that it is unfairly stealing advertising space from publishers as the internet giant sought to make a peace offering to the UK’s hard-pressed media.
Between 2005 to 2016 UK publishers saw their total share of advertising revenue wither away from £5bn to just £2.3bn, while Google hoovered up the lion’s share of revenues, with its share surging from just £1bn to over £6bn over the same period.
Addressing an audience of editors last night, Google UK chief Ronan Harris said that this collapse in the share of advertising revenues won by UK national and regional titles was unrelated to Google’s rise and now dominance of the sector and that both sides must seek ‘common cause’ rather than fight amongst themselves.
Speaking to the Society of Editors Harris remarked: “I’ve heard lots of people say that Google and Facebook are ‘ruthlessly stealing’ all the advertising revenue that publishers hoped to acquire through online editions. That analysis just isn’t right.
“First, it conflates two markets: search and display. The majority of Google’s revenue comes from showing highly relevant ads when you search for a particular term... Search advertising is not a market that news publishers have ever been in.
“Also – and this is important because we haven’t explained it clearly enough in the past – there is no advertising on Google News. Zero.
“Second, let’s look at display, where publishers focus their efforts. In display advertising, Google is a supplier of ad inventory to newspaper websites. In every deal we do, without exception, the publisher keeps the majority of ad revenue — typically more than two thirds but often more. In short, we only make money if you’re making money.”
Instead Harris sought to focus on the revenue it can bring to publishers globally via its search and news services which drive more than 10bn clicks a month to publisher websites free of charge.