What’s been happening in the world of digital publishing over the last week? Here’s your weekly round-up of news, announcements, product launches, and more.
Future of digital publishing
Australian indie publishers ‘freeze news’ in protest at exclusion from big tech bargaining
Independent Australian news sites are instigating a “news freeze” on Tuesday to protest big tech’s failures to pay for their content.
The publishers, who say they number around 30, will not publish for 24 hours from the beginning of Tuesday 22 March, Sydney time. Read more
Why it matters: As the article points out, “The strike comes as Australia reviews its landmark news media bargaining code, which forces designated tech giants to negotiate with the media for payment.”
BuzzFeed Posts Higher 4Q Revenue, Profit
Digital-media publisher BuzzFeed Inc. said its revenue and profit rose in the three months ended Dec. 31.
The company posted net income attributable to the company of $40.4 million in the fourth quarter, compared with $32.2 million in the same period a year earlier.
Revenue rose 18% to $145.7 million from $123 million. Analysts were looking for revenue of $133.3 million, according to FactSet. Read more
Why it matters: As the article points out, BuzzFeed has been among the most high-profile players in digital publishing that in December began trading as a public company.
Recurrent Ventures acquires Business of Home
Recurrent Ventures, a venture equity-backed digital media company, has acquired Business of Home, a digital and print publication dedicated to home and interior design enthusiasts, Axios has learned.
Business of Home will join other Recurrent titles like Domino and Lonny in rounding out Recurrent’s home category. Read more
Why it matters: As the article points out, “It’s the first B2B brand that Recurrent has acquired as it looks to build a small digital publishing empire. Recurrent has built a portfolio of more than two dozen digital media outlets through targeted acquisitions of established brands over the past few years spanning home, lifestyle, military, outdoor, science, and tech verticals. It raised $75 million in October to continue buying distressed assets, often in print, that it can revive as digital brands.”
BBC expects global news audience to hit 500m this year thanks to US expansion and Ukraine coverage
The BBC is on track to reach a weekly non-UK news audience of 500m this year, according to an executive tasked with North American growth. The 456m figure is based on a Global Audience Measure (GAM) score recorded last November. This found that the BBC’s international news services reached 456m adults a week in 2021, up 18m from the previous year. This includes audiences for the World Service in English and other languages, World News TV, BBC.com and BBC Media Action.
The BBC’s total global audience, including non-news content, at the time was judged to be 489m adults per week. The corporation’s ambition – set in 2013 by then-director-general Tony Hall – is to reach a global audience of 500m by 2022, its 100th anniversary. Read more
Why it matters: As Katty Kay, a former BBC News anchor who was recruited to front some of its new digital content, explained, “There’s money behind it. There are exciting new products to do it with. And there’s a determination on behalf of top executives of the BBC, both in London and in America, to make this happen.”
Ad-Tech Company TripleLift Is Buying 1plusX for $150 Million
Ad-tech company TripleLift Inc. said it is acquiring 1plusX AG, a business that helps publishers and advertisers reach audiences using first-party data, for roughly $150 million.
Buying 1plusX will help bolster TripleLift’s first-party-data capabilities, said Ari Lewine, TripleLift’s co-founder and chief strategy officer. Read more
Why it matters: As the authors point out, “The deal comes as the marketing industry is developing new strategies to efficiently reach consumers amid numerous privacy changes, including a plan by Alphabet Inc.’s Google to block third-party cookies in its Chrome browser next year.”
Google Play to pilot third-party billing option, starting with Spotify
Amid increasing global regulations over app stores and their commission structures, Google today announced the launch of a pilot program designed to explore what it calls “user billing choice.” The program will allow a small number of participating developers, starting with Spotify, to offer an additional third-party billing option next to Google Play’s own billing system in their apps. While Google already offers a similar system in South Korea following the arrival of new legislation requiring it, this will be the first time it will test the system in multiple worldwide markets. Read more
Why it matters: “This fight is not just about wanting to have a more direct relationship with customers — it’s largely about money. Today’s app stores charge commissions ranging from 15%-30%, generally speaking, for apps offering subscriptions and in-app purchases through their platforms.”
EU targets Big Tech with sweeping new antitrust legislation
The EU has unveiled its biggest ever legislative effort to balance competition in the tech world. The new Digital Markets Act, or DMA, is intended to rein in the power of the largest tech corporations and allow smaller entities to compete with the mostly US-based firms. So far, the EU has tackled antitrust issues on a case-by-case basis, but the DMA is intended to introduce sweeping reforms that will address systemic issues in the whole market.
Today’s announcement targets interoperability of messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and iMessage, with the EU saying that vendors will have to “open up and interoperate with smaller messaging platforms, if they so request.” Read more
Why it matters: As pointed out in the piece, “The DMA will force new obligations on companies deemed to be “gatekeepers” — a category defined by the legislation as firms with a market capitalization of at least €75 billion ($82 billion); at least 45 million monthly users; and a “platform” like an app or social network. Companies covered by this classification include well-known tech giants like Google, Microsoft, Meta, Amazon, and Apple, but also smaller entities like Booking.com. If the “gatekeepers” don’t follow the rules, then the financial penalties could be steep.”
YouTube Confirms Shorts Views Don’t Count For Monetization
Views of YouTube Shorts count toward a channel’s total watch time, but they don’t count toward eligibility in the YouTube Partner Program (YPP).
Channels in the YPP are able to monetize and earn revenue from videos, though not everyone is eligible to join it.
Among other criteria, acceptance into the YPP requires 4,000 valid public watch hours within the last 12 months. Read more
Why it matters: The article points out: “YouTube confirms it’s working on revamping the analytics section in YouTube Studio. Currently, views of all types of videos are counted as a single metric.”
Instagram launches chronological and ‘favorites’ feeds for all users, but they can’t be the default
Instagram today is making a chronological feed available to all users, as earlier promised, alongside another new feed-filtering option that will allow you to scroll through posts from your favorite accounts. The features had been launched into limited testing starting in January but will now reach Instagram’s global user base by the end of the day on Wednesday, March 23 — a faster rollout than usual. Read more
Why it matters: The article points out: “Lawmakers and regulators are increasingly concerned about Big Tech’s use of algorithms to sort the content people see after numerous studies have pointed towards the possibility that people are being trapped inside so-called “filter bubbles” and “echo chambers” that reflect their worldview — whether or not that view is reality.”
Yoast WordPress Plugin Update Causes Fatal Errors
Yoast WordPress SEO plugin released an update but it soon became apparent that something went horribly wrong for some users. It appears that the problem caused fatal errors. Negatively affected victims of the Yoast update had to roll back to a previous version of Yoast.
Yoast 18.4 was intended to introduce a new feature that introduced content and structured data timestamps for the purpose of copyright protection using blockchain technology. Read more
Google: Alt Text Only A Factor For Image Search
Google’s use of alt text as a ranking factor is limited to image search. It does not add value for regular web search.
This is explained by Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller during the Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout recorded on March 18. Read more