The Week Kickoff: Google round-up, DIS2021, plus the rest of the world

Google continues to hog the media headlines (in more ways than one) and we’ve put together a concise overview of the key issues here – all of the info, minus the headache! We’ve also got an exclusive interview with the Tony Blair Institute on social media regulation, the return of BBC3, Daily Mail buys New Scientist… and of course, this week marks the launch of this year’s Digital Innovators Summit (DIS), Europe’s premier media tech event!


Google Round-up

OK let’s keep this one niiiiiiice and simple, by visualising all of the noise currently surrounding Google as two speakers emanating from the company, being pointed at the ears of publishers and advertisers: 

This is of course to oversimplify, but the key thing to observe here is that in two of its most important sectors, Google’s public address system appears to have gone horribly wrong.

1. Google vs Pubblishers

Last week we reported on the ongoing Google vs Publishers saga, and how the epicentre of this conflict appears to be shifting from Australia to the US. Google’s VP of News, Richard Gingras, told Digiday that in his experience, publishers did not want collective bargaining, saying: “My general sense of publishers, frankly, is that they prefer bilateral. It’s a matter of law. It’s not really a matter of our preference.”

This of course, has not gone down well across the publishing industry. Because while you have major international publishers like News Corp seeing value in this form of negotiation, and doing deals with Google, smaller publishers could well find themselves losing out. And so this latest round in the Google-News-Media bout is likely to open up further rifts within the industry, as well as wider questions around what constitutes fair competition across today’s media landscape.

2. Google vs Advertisers

Perhaps even more interesting (and certainly less clear cut) was Google’s announcement last week that it intends to stop personalised ad-tracking altogether, once third party cookies are phased out. The post, written by David Temkin, Director of Product Management, Ads Privacy and Trust for the company, cites a recent Pew Research Centre Report, which states that 72 per cent of people feel that almost all of what they do online is being tracked by advertisers, technology firms or other companies, and 81 per cent say that the potential risks they face because of data collection outweigh the benefits.

So does this mean that ads for Star Trek hoodies will stop following me around the web? Well, what exactly this means for publishers, ad-tech providers, and more broadly your ‘honest Mom & Pop stores just-tryna-reach-customers, Guv’ going forward, is at this stage still up for debate. Many are untrustworthy of Google’s motives, others see the opportunities brought about by this move, and this article by Campaign’s Jessica Goodfellow puts forward some of the best insights from around the industry that we’ve seen so far.


Tony Blair Institute on social media regulation

From Twitter and free speech, to Google vs Publishers, much has been written in recent weeks about media tech regulation (see above). The trouble is that particularly when it comes to social media, while many of us may talk a good game, very few are able to conceptualise what regulation might physically look like on the ground.

Cue Max Beverton-Palmer. He is the Head of Internet Policy at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, prior to which he was Head of Digital Policy for Sky, and prior to THAT spent six years working in key policy roles at Ofcom, the UK communications regulator. We therefore figured he would be ideally placed to explain some of the logistics to us, and in this exclusive interview for FIPP, he walks us through everything from digital passports, to online identity, to international cooperation. You can watch/listen to the interview in full, or read the abridged, here.


The return of BBC3

UK television channel BBC3 will return to screens next year, it has been announced. The brand went online only in 2016 after 13yrs as a broadcast channel, and it’s hoped that its return will help to increase the diversity and creativity of the broadcaster’s overall output. “It has exciting, groundbreaking content that deserves the widest possible audience and using BBC iPlayer alongside a broadcast channel will deliver the most value,” said Charlotte Moore, the BBC’s Chief Content Officer.

However, some have questioned the decision to bring back BBC3 as a broadcast play, such as Michael Hogan writing in The Telegraph. He calls the decision a “U-turn” and says that it is a “symbolic move” aimed at demonstrating that the BBC is not in direct competition with OTT streaming services like Netflix and Amazon. It’s an interesting point, given that the channel’s target audience of 16-34 year olds is more likely to be interested in streamed rather than linear content. Nonetheless, with an improved iPlayer service these days and BBC3 content of course set to run across all platforms, expanded distribution is unlikely to be a bad thing.


Daily Mail buys New Scientist

Staying in the UK momentarily, one of the more interesting deals to hit the media headlines last week was that Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) has acquired New Scientist magazine in a £70m (US$96m) cash deal. Speaking to Mark Sweney in The Guardian, previous investment-lead, Sir Bernard Gray told the newspaper: “This was totally unplanned. Three weeks ago I was planning the strategic future of New Scientist. This morning I’ve been for a walk around the village, grabbed a coffee, fielded a few calls congratulating me on the deal, and now I’m unemployed.”

And if merger and acquisition news is your thing (or just Mark Sweney), the Guardian Journalist also reports that Jay-Z has sold his majority stake in the Tidal music streaming service to Jack Dorsey’s Square. It’s a $297m deal and your man has all the details here.  


The Digital Innovators Summit (DIS)

Finally, we don’t need an ‘And from FIPP…’ section this week, because our latest announcement IS the news! The Digital Innovators Summit, Europe’s leading event for the media tech industry, which is presented by FIPP in collaboration with VDZ, launches this Tuesday 9 March. It is of course a virtual event this year, and will take the form of an online seminar series taking place across the months of March, April, and May. Attendance is free for members, just €99 for non-members, and all attendees will also receive a free digital edition of the 2021 Innovation Report, on which many of the sessions will be based. You can find out more here.

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