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Power in numbers: 4 ways publishers can dismantle Big Tech’s ad dominance

What's New in Publishing 10 Jun 2021 07:03

Publishers, who once ruled internet news content, have had to manage the rapidly changing landscape and, in some cases, have lost their grasp on readers at the hands of corporate tech giants. But how and why?

The first newspapers came online in the mid-80s via CompuServe and then en masse to the web in the early 90s. At the time, they directly owned how advertising appeared on their site. “Adtech” did not exist. That meant they kept 100% of the value of the space they were selling alongside their content. But things quickly changed.

Starting in the early-mid 2000s, the emergence of Google News, powerful smartphones, and social media platforms, such as Facebook, caused a huge shift in the way people consumed content. They wanted to digest their news more quickly than ever and these platforms were structured to meet that demand. Unfortunately, this resulted in publishers seeing their audiences and ability to monetize their content tank.

Within the last decade, Big Tech companies, including Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple, have grown their user bases, on the backs of that publisher content, into the billions and have leveraged that power to create what we now refer to as “walled gardens,” or an enclosed environment that dictates the user’s access to certain materials, websites, and services. This includes advertising. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), global digital ad spend went up more than 12% in 2020, with tech giants receiving nearly 80% of the revenue. A study by eMarketer showed that Google and Facebook alone had a combined share of more than 54%.

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