BIA Advisory Services reached out to me a few weeks ago for some feedback on a study about how the big online news platforms were affecting the businesses of local news broadcasters. In their recently published study commissioned by NAB, “The Economic Impact of Big Tech Platforms on the Viability of Local Broadcast News”, BIA estimates that local broadcasters lose $1.9B annually by supplying their content to Google & Facebook.
The study concluded that none of these platforms allows broadcasters to earn “equitable” revenue. Some of the reasons for this included:
- algorithms that don’t “properly weight” broadcast content in local search queries
- inclusion of “questionable sources and disinformation” alongside local broadcasters’ content which could confuse users and instill distrust.
For most of you reading this, I’d guess this news is nothing new.
I certainly am sympathetic to local media companies. They, like the rest of us, have to play in Google’s and/or Facebook’s game. And of course, this study is likely helpful ammunition for NAB to try to prod legislators into regulating the tech monopolies.
I don’t really have a dog in this fight. After all, many local media companies were monopolies for a century before Google came around. And the Internet, with its virtually infinite amount of content, did some serious damage to media brands before anyone had ever heard of Facebook.
To abstract this a bit, all of us engaging in SEO are doing our best not to drown in an ever-expanding ocean of content and algorithms. No matter whether you are a news site, sell bamboo toilet paper, the Tesla of chicken, or cars, the SEO job is the same: get found, use that visibility to connect with your customer/audience, rinse, & repeat.
Unfortunately, for these local media companies, and for all of us, regulation might buy us all time to come up for air and catch a breath, but should that occur, I think we’ll all find that sooner or later we’ll be back under the waves, whether they come from Google, Facebook, Apple, or some company/technology that has not even been thought of yet.
And when that happens, the best strategy is to be a strong swimmer.