Why Did Facebook Block News Access in Australia?

Last week, Facebook took another step toward becoming the world’s most mistrusted tech company by abruptly blocking Australians’ access to news content. It also barred news publishers in that country from posting on their pages. The move was in retaliation to proposed legislation that would help publishers compete with digital marketing giants like Facebook and Google. You can learn more about that legislation here.

Governments around the world have criticized the move, calling it irresponsible and a risk to public safety. Facebook responded by saying that the legislation “fundamentally misunderstands” the relationship between itself and the publishers and suggesting that it had helped these publishers earn hundreds of millions through referrals.

What Does this Have to do with Digital Marketing?

In the past two decades, the internet has become the world’s dominant advertising medium. Within the next two to three years, digital ad spend is expected to surpass spending on all other forms of advertising. This shift has been bad for news publishers. More than 80 per cent of digital marketing dollars in Australia goes to Google and Facebook, leaving publishers to fight for scraps.

Will This Affect My Advertising Strategy?

It is likely that the Canadian government will attempt to enact similar legislation to what has been proposed in Australia. Canadians have traditionally seen news media as an essential public service; forcing Facebook and Google to share revenues generated by publishers’ hard work could help those publishers stay in business.

Google has shown a willingness to cut deals with news organizations, so any search engine advertising disruption is unlikely. Facebook has taken more of a hard line, but knows its options are limited; prolonged news blackouts would further alienate users and damage its already battered reputation.

The worst-case scenario for businesses that advertise on Facebook or Google is an incremental increase in costs – a small price to pay for continued access to reliable public information. As a Google Premier Partner digital marketing agency, GrowthEngine Media is committed both to the health of Canadian news media and to managing efficient and effective ad services for our clients. Contact us today to learn more.


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