Update to Australia’s news media bargaining code

Update to Australia’s news media bargaining code

10 February 2021 |

Media and Advertising Industry

Recently you may have heard about the ACCC News Media Bargaining Code, and Google’s subsequent ‘threat’ to leave the Australian market. If you haven’t, in summary ‘the draft code would allow news media businesses to bargain individually or collectively with Google and Facebook over payment for the inclusion of news on their services.’ Put simply, Google would have to pay news outlets every time a search results link was clicked to the publishers site. Read more about the code.

There is a certain bias being portrayed by some media outlets, as it’s those exact media outlets that have the most to gain from the code being approved, as they would receive money for traffic to their site. Having spoken to Google directly ourselves, we want to update you on the facts, ensuring you’re informed on what would be the biggest shift in the industry in decades, & what Admatic is doing to limit the impact for our clients.

Why is Google against the news media bargaining code in its current form?

Firstly, Google isn’t against a News Media Bargaining Code, in fact the same code Google proposed to the Australian Government was accepted by the French Government just last week, & media outlets in Germany and Brazil have praised the French deal and are open to similar discussions.

The main disputes from Google in the Australian market are:

  1. How much Google should pay news publishers and what they’re paying the outlets for
  2. Google cannot comply to provide Australian news outlets with 14 days notice of algorithm changes. This is because of two key reasons:
  • Googles algorithms are Global and it wouldn’t be fair to provide their algorithm to Australian media outlets and not anyone else.
  • Googles algorithms are updated daily using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, therefore it’s not possible to give 14 days notice as many changes are real time.

Listen to the response from Mel Silva, Managing Director for Google Australia (2 minute video).

What Google is proposing?

Rather than a pay per click model, in which costs could spiral out of control for Google, Google are proposing Google News Showcase, which would see Google pay publishers a fixed monthly fee for them to curate stories, including pay-walled content, for Google users to access for free. This would ensure Google pay publishers as per the intention of the News Media Bargaining code, but allows Google to maintain some relative control.

What happens next?

The Australian Senate will make a decision on the above proposal on the 15th February. If the ACCC draft code legislation is passed, Google have said they will have no choice but to leave the Australian market. This will of course remove Google Search for Australians. Googles other properties i.e., YouTube, Google Display Network (GDN), Maps, Google Search Export (Managing Google Ads campaigns outside of Australia) will remain.

Google leaving Australia is a last resort of course, but one that could be a reality next week. Google are in continuous discussions with the Australian Government and are looking to find workable solution prior to the 15th February.

In the unlikely outcome that the legislation is passed, and Google exits the market, Bing (Microsoft Ads) would naturally become Australians primary search engine. We have taken pre-emptive steps to setup an identical Microsoft Account for you. Maintaining engine parity between the Google Account and the Microsoft Account will be actioned prior to the 15th so we can continue to capture users and drive them to your business.

Please reach out if you have any questions. We understand there is a lot at stake, and we will be sure to keep you updated throughout.

There are a raft of resources and information available from Google.