The boss of Google UK has delivered a rebuff to industry calls for a greater share of the advertising revenue generated by newspaper publishers.
Trade body the News Media Association has backed calls for digital giants such as Google and Facebook to recompense publishers for using their content on its platforms.
But delivering the Society of Editors lecture in Cambridge last night, Google UK and Ireland managing director Ronan Harris insisted that most of the ad revenues generated by such content were already going to the publishers.
Mr Harris described as “factually incorrect” suggestions that Google was “stealing” ad revenue from publishers, saying that two thirds of the revenues generated by online content went to its originators.
“I’ve heard lots of people say that Google and Facebook are “ruthlessly stealing” all the advertising revenue that publishers hoped to acquire through online editions,” he told the gathering.
“There is no advertising on Google News. Zero. Indeed you will rarely see advertising around news cycles in
Google Search either.
“In display advertising, Google is a supplier of ad inventory to newspaper websites. In every deal we do, without exception, the publisher keeps the majority of ad revenue — typically more than two thirds but often more.
“In short, we only make money if you’re making money.”
Mr Harris appeared to differentiate Google’s activities from those of Facebook, suggesting it was unfair to lump the two digital giants together.
“They have always been a very different business with a very different business model,” he said.
Mr Harris stressed Google’s desire to work in partnership with local and national publishers, citing its Digital News Initiative and its efforts to help combat fake news.
“My message to you is simple: we care deeply about the future of journalism, we recognise that our futures are bound together and we are determined to be the best possible partner to the news industry,” he said.