‘Publishers risk waking up and finding that they work for Google’ warns Carsales sales boss

Australian publishers and content makers have been warned that the growing shift of ad revenues to the likes of Google, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn threatens the future viability of their businesses.

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L:R Saines, Sheffield, Rothenberg, McIntyre on stage at the IAB Leadership Summit

Speaking at the IAB leadership summit Anthony Saines, director of media at (ASX: CAR) told the room that he worried about the consolidation of digital advertising power.

“I don’t know how healthy that is, where you risk one day waking up and find you are working for Google or Twitter. I think those platforms will end up dominating the world,” said Saines.

Saines was responding to a question from AdNews contributing editor Paul McIntyre, who opened the session saying he was worried about the democratisation of content, which had let to a situation where the likes of Facebook were not paying for the creation of content.

“That realisation point is interesting and I agree the emancipation of information is interesting… the consumer has more choice and more voice than ever, but I’m not sure the content industry will be able to survive in its current form,” said Saines.

“Especially if it does coalesce around three or four players.”

Saines was on a panel with NewsLifeMedia magazine boss Nicole Sheffield who told the room that Google and co’s business models were different because they increasingly owned the means of online distribution.

“The reality is that when you are investing in creativity there will be many out of work creatives, there will be many freelance journalists out of work but actually there is a buoyant industry that is looking for a hit,” said Sheffield.

“Actually when you own the distribution then you don’t need the hit because you own the algorithim and content does not matter as much,” she said. “But I think it will change over time.”

IAB US head Randall Rothenberg was also on the panel and argued that a concentration of power in media was not unusual when looking at the history of the newspaper and TV sectors.

“I don’t think it’s all that different from what we have experienced historically,” said Rothenberg. “And there is no decree from God saying people are going to have an easy time making money from content. It was never that way where you are talking about movies, newspapers it was always difficult for creators to make money.

“There has always been concentration. Other than the days between multiple newspapers in the early markets of newspapers, we have basically had monopolies or duopolies.”

Rothenberg also argued that it would take time for the online world to digest the full impact of digital convergence on media.

“Between the Wright brothers’ first flight in 1903 and the beginning of the commercial aviation industry there was 30 years,” he said. “It took 30 years from the invention of human powered flight to develop it commercially.

“So many things needed to be worked out in the system – we are actually doing pretty well comparatively.”

Nic Christensen 


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