Friday 1st March: 32 media groups levy $2.3bn antitrust suit against Google

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A group of 32 European media organisations, including Axel Springer and Schibsted, have jointly filed a $2.3 billion antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet-owned Google. Filed in the Netherlands, the suit alleges that the media businesses have suffered significant financial losses as a result of Google’s anticompetitive practices in the digital advertising sector.

The coalition of companies alleges that Google’s dominant role in the digital advertising ecosystem has unfairly harmed their publishing businesses. The group said in a statement: “News media were negatively affected at a time when their economic model is already weakened by the decline in sales of print subscriptions and the decline in associated advertising revenue.”

I have sympathy with publishers trying to find a way to fight the Duopoly and beyond and if Google is found to have broken the rules, they should be held accountable. But telling teacher about the big boys stealing your lunch money is not a sustainable business model. As we discussed on the podcast a couple of weeks ago, making yourself different and valuable is the only way forward.

In the age of reader revenue, we know audience engagement is a really big deal. ‘Top’ lists are effective in driving audiences deeper and this new ‘Deeply Read’ measure from the Guardian is an interesting twist on the ‘Most Read’ metrics we’re familiar with. The chart is calculated from active reading time, taking into account the length of the article. “It still matters to show people what is popular, but we love showing them something more,” says Chris Moran, the Guardian’s head of editorial innovation.

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I’ve just come across this interview with Gay Times CEO Tag Warner. It’s a great insight into the community focus that the title has managed to internationalise. The long established values-led approach of the 40-year old title is also a great lesson for publishers looking to engage younger readers who care deeply about inclusivity. Warner talks about media leaders with a sense of superiority, saying, “That is a shame because it really shuts you off from connecting with people about what they really care about and what matters to them.”

Are Media grew its print magazine readership, year-on-year, for the sixth consecutive quarter in December, with a 4% jump. The company’s magazine stable now delivers an average of 6.04 million readers a month. Better Homes and Gardens, the most-read paid print magazine in Australia, has 1.83 million readers each issue, up 8% year-on-year. To talk about a ‘vinyl-style print comeback’ is to oversimplify what’s going on, but this is more good news for those of us that still care about ink on paper.

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