The Competition Commission of India (ICC) recently ordered an investigation against Alphabet Inc, Google LLC, Google India and Google Ireland for alleged abuse of dominance in the digital advertising market following a complaint filed by Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA).
The DNPA alleged that Google was depriving publishers of their fair share of revenue by only sharing 10-15% of digital advertising revenue with news websites. Further, the revenue share is split between digital assets of traditional media companies and pure digital news players.
According to news website traffic details provided by DNPA, online search engines provide more than 50% of traffic, followed by social (25-30%). The remaining 10-15% come directly. Google is the most dominant search engine.
“Thus, it is safe to infer that more than 50% of the total traffic on news websites is routed through Google. Being the dominant player in this field, Google, by means of its algorithms, determines which website news is discovered through search. Considering the above, news websites only get 10-15% of digital advertising share, which must also be split between traditional media digital assets and native digital news publications,” DNPA said in its complaint to the TCC.
Citing a 2020 report from Dentsu, the DNPA said that search advertising accounts for 25% of the digital advertising share, and here Google exercises monopoly control. Thanks to YouTube, Google also dominates the in-stream video advertising market, which accounts for 22% of digital advertising revenue.
According to the DNPA, the only segment where traditional media companies have a relatively better presence is display advertising, whose share is pegged at 21%. “But here too, a good part is carried away by the advertising networks and various third-party intermediaries.”
The DNPA argued that Google, by abusing its dominant position, is destroying the concept of “fair and well-researched journalism.” This, DNPA argued, is not only against the Competition Act 2002, but also against the Constitution of India, as consumers have the right to access credible information.
The association also said Google was depriving publishers of fair ad revenue by abusing its dominant position. He added that the tech giant has made it impossible for DNPA-affiliated publishers to negotiate a fair share in the news delivery value chain.
The DNPA also accused Google of being opaque because it does not disclose various aspects, including their operations such as the application of technological tools, audience management data and practices, or generation and sharing. revenue with local partners.
Google’s abuse of dominance has resulted in reduced innovation, as well as potentially negative impacts on people and businesses, including the news industry, DNPA said in its complaint to the ICC . Google, he said, has withheld a fair share of revenue from publishers for use of snippets of the content. Furthermore, he said that Google’s dominance in algorithmic search markets allows it to control search results and consumer social behavior.
DNPA noted that the steady decline in revenues for traditional media companies over the past decade has worsened further in the past two years. He added that these companies’ financial reliance on digital advertising revenue has increased like never before.
“Traditional media companies have entered the digital news environment with considerable strengths, such as consumer credibility and trustworthiness, audience loyalty, newsroom capabilities and journalistic talent. However, despite these strengths and subsequent investments, revenues/returns have remained dismal,” confirmed DNPA said.
“While it is the content produced by news media companies that creates the context for the audience to interact with the advertiser, online search engines (read Google) end up leveraging revenue/returns far more than publishers.”
DNPA stated that its members are not informed or given any data on the amount of revenue generated by Google and its associates from providing advertisements on publisher websites/links. He added that Google gives a small portion of ad revenue to publishers arbitrarily, without disclosing any basis for calculating that revenue.
Publishers receive paltry sums due to unique, arbitrary, one-sided and opaque decision-making processes adopted by Google, DNPA said, adding that the tech giant has refused to fairly compensate publishers for the use of snippets of the content created by Google. his members.
“The terms of the agreements reached between the members of the Informant and the Opposing Parties for the sharing of advertising revenue are unilaterally and arbitrarily dictated by the Opposing Parties and the members of the Informant have no choice but to accept the terms, as they are, without any bargaining power,” the complaint reads.
DNPA argued that Google’s abuse of dominance would lead to reduced innovation, reduced technical progress, reduced improvisation of content, and many other negative impacts not only on the business of media industry, but also on journalism as a whole.
“The aforementioned arbitrary and unfair acts of opposing parties are prejudicial and damaging to the interests of consumers as well as the journalism industry,” DNPA alleged.
Founded in 2018, DNPA members include Indian Express Group’s IE Online Media Services, ABP Network, Amar Ujala, Dainik Bhaskar Corp, Express Network, HT Digital Streams, Jagran Prakashan, Lokmat Media, NDTV Convergence, TV Today Network, The Malayala Manorama, Times Internet Limited and Ushodaya Enterprises.
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