Until not too long ago we were wondering what the big printed paper publishers should do about Google and Facebook. If these international Over The Top were to be considered more a threat or an opportunity. We have witnessed the like and fan battle first (but what exactly should we do with Facebook fans?), then the bickering on Instant Articles, AMP, YouTube, etcetera. Today we can start all over again, with the introduction in this scenario of the digital copyright provisions established by vote by the European Union. The big platforms, in fact, will no longer be able to use artistic and journalistic content without paying the sources. Note: it will still be possible to simply link the page containing the news or content, what will no longer be possible is offering a free summarized preview (text with images) that “satisfies” users’ needs, persuading them not to click on the said link.
So, once again: what should the big printed paper publishers do about Google and Facebook? Yes, because it’s not enough to claim victory for a European law – which is still in the making and will then require the incorporation of single State Members – that at least on paper, is on the side of publishers and journalists. It is necessary to once again wonder how to interpret, now, the new market scenario.
Here are two possible versions.
The first: it will no longer be convenient for the big platforms to invest in information, therefore they will give up all efforts in this area (as an example, no more Google News). In addition to publishers’ loss of revenue caused by the absence of links/previews in their articles, the same publishers will experience a reduction of traffic on their sites with consequences on advertising revenue. Though the first part is only “hypothetical” (as of today publishers are not compensated in any way), the second is absolutely differential compared to the current scenario, and a further drop of traffic would cause even more problems to the already marginal advertising revenue.
The second: publishers continue to be present on these platforms. Ok, but at what cost? Publishers’ “negotiating power” is such that it can elicit better conditions than the few currently effective (for example an advertising split of advertising spaces available in AMP and Instant Articles)? If we think about it carefully, any offer made available by OTTs and publishers to enable the use of their news and articles at a very low price would be better than nothing. What alternative revenue sources do publishers currently have that would enable them to turn it down? In what other way do they think they could make more?
Because the real matter is not so much the use of artistic and journalistic contents. The real issue is: what alternative is possible? It is on this that a publisher, or even better, the publishers combined (it would be about time) must reason.