Aldo Agostinelli

Should advertisers trust Facebook? Basically very little or not at all, at least according to Axel Springer, Ceo of the German publishing group Media Impact. Following the “Cambridge Analytica” scandal which last March, as we all know, caused Facebook a lot of trouble due to a  bad case of illegal sale of its users’ data to third parties , the company had survey conducted in Germany, to understand how and how much such scandal may have affected its users’ opinion concerning its reliability.  And what has come out is no good news. Or, on the contrary, it may be for those publishers who have got fed up with the adv duopoly  dominated by Google and Zuckerberg’s creature, and who have been trying to get rid of it (Facebook and Google, the duopoly which is worrying advertisers).

According such survey, involving a sample of over 4.000 users aged between  16 and 49, over  50% over the interviewees releases fake statements to protect their identity. For over 46% of them, instead, in the near future Facebook is bound to lose out to Instagram.

In Europe the social media loses over 3 million active users every day. Actually few if compared to 2,23 billion people who use it globally and 32 million users recorded in Germany, still, a crack other publishers may take advantage of. Springer’s giant, boasting 40 digital papers among which Business Insider and Bild, is leading the group of “rebels”  which has long escaped Google’s adv ruling  and is encouraging all other publishers to do the same. But this is not all: they have also developed their own assessment system and an open-source advertising platform (We’re giving them a harder time’: Axel Springer tries to turn up heat on Facebook).

Gruner Jahr, another German publishing giant, despite its uninterrupted partnership with Facebook, has admitted his Facebook generated traffic to have decreased by 50 and 80%. Such decrease has also been recorded by other publishers all over Europe: in France traffic has plummeted by 18%, in the UK by 26%. Extra UE referrals have decreased by 40% in the United States.

However, it is not just a matter of money. If on the one hand it is true that most revenues go to the two monopolists of digital adv, on the other hand the quality of contents is involved, as well. Less money translates into a lower dependence on journalism. And on the basis of this consideration,  Springer’s group is  promoting a war for “a purely digital, fully independent and financially autonomous journalism”.
As I have already dealt with in my article entitled  “Online news: the “free of charge” trend is changing direction”, due to the increasing number of fake news, readers are more and more willing to pay something to be allowed to read verified and reliable news. This has translated in the booming subscriptions  recorded by the New York Times and Washington Post digital editions over the last year and in over  350 thousand new subscribers to Bild. Still, subscriptions can provide only part of the funds needed for a paper to survive. The rest should come from advertising: taking that back means more independence for media. This is why Springer’s invitation is addressed to small, medium and big publishers who shall share their data so as to rely on a sales force which may compete with Google and Facebook offer.

According  to the same logic, Media Impact has launched the Verimi project, in partnership with  Deutsche Bank, Allianz, Deutsche Telecom and Lufthansa. The unprecedented plan foresees the creation of a common digital ID which should allow any German user to access all the services of the whole alliance. The target is to allow users to save their digital ID in a “European safe”, manage it and decide whether or not  it can be used for commercial purposes, according to the opt-in principle  (“D’autres éditeurs européens pourront rejoindre l’alliance Verimi“).

Verimi is soon to be opened to European publishers. And this may be the end of the Facebook and Google monopoly. Only time will tell.

What do you think of  Google and Facebook digital advertising monopoly? Tweet  @agostinellialdo.

To find out more about the digital world, you may read my latest book entitled: “People Are Media” 

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Aldo Agostinelli