Google and Facebook should be forced to open up their ‘complex and opaque ’ advertising business, so that online news publishers can make enough money to survive, a report has warned.
Online news providers struggle to make ends meet because Google and Facebook hoover up so much of every pound spent on advertising on news websites. The report says web giants should have to sign up to a new code of conduct – overseen by a regulator – to ensure they deal with publishers fairly.
It suggests that Google and Facebook should disclose how much of every pound spent on online advertising actually reaches the publisher, after it is funnelled through automatic bidding systems.
They should also be forced to give publishers ‘early warning’ about major changes to their ‘algorithms ’ – computer codes that dictate the order of search results – to give websites time to prepare, the report says.
The recommendations come in the review of the sustainability of the UK Press, ordered by Theresa May last year and undertaken by former journalist Dame Frances Cairncross.
In her report, Dame Frances warns that written journalism is ‘at risk’, because of the stranglehold Google and Facebook have on the search and advertising markets and people's data.