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Google Announces $1 Billion Partnership Program with News Publishers in Europe

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google announces 1 billion partnership program with news publishers in europe

Amid ongoing questions about how digital platforms profit from news and publisher content, and how they subsequently share the benefits of such with the original creators, Google has this week announced a new, $1 billion partnership with European news publishers as it seeks to establish improved connection, and facilitate the evolution of the news publishing sector.

Google News initiative

As explained by Google:

“This financial commitment – our biggest to date – will pay publishers to create and curate high-quality content for a different kind of online news experience. Google News Showcase is a new product that will benefit both publishers and readers: It features the editorial curation of award-winning newsrooms to give readers more insight on the stories that matter, and in the process, helps publishers develop deeper relationships with their audiences.”

It sounds very similar to Facebook’s dedicated News tab, which it’s in the process of rolling out, and which also enables approved publishers to essentially curate and manage their content on the platform, helping improve connection with audiences, while also establishing a more official, vetted stream of official news, which could help reduce the spread of misinformation.

But while Facebook has focused its announcements on news content quality and original reporting, Google’s new program seems more focused on paying publishers – which makes sense, given the various battles the search giant is facing in regards to the way in which it uses news content.

The Australian government, for example, is currently looking to implement new legislation which would essentially force both Facebook and Google to share part of their revenue with local news publishers for the use of their content on their platforms. Both Google and Facebook have rejected the proposal, and have threatened to stop using publisher content completely, if the new measures are approved.

And they’re right. The Australian proposal is based on the flawed principle that Google and Facebook need the content created by local news publishers to survive, which they don’t, and as a result, the final outcome of the push, if the Government does choose to go ahead with it, will see local publishers lose out on web traffic and revenue as a result of the two giants revising their processes in line with the rules.

That’s the opposite outcome to what the Government is seeking to achieve, but the basis for the push, which has also been enacted in different ways in both France and Spain, is really that Facebook and Google are making a lot of money, while local publishers are struggling.

Facebook and Google use their content, so they should share, right?

Well, kind of – as Google explains:

Google Search and Google News help news publishers by sending large amounts of traffic for free to their sites. In Europe alone, people click on the news content Google links to more than eight billion times a month—that means we drive 3,000 clicks per second to publishers’ own websites. For larger news publishers, a study by Deloitte put the value of each click between 4-6 euro cents, mostly generated through advertising and subscriptions.”

So Google’s saying that it already does provide financial benefit to news publishers, and its working to improve those benefits through programs like this new, billion-dollar commitment, as well as the Google News Initiative and other projects.

It’s not true to say we don’t pay for news or drive value for the industry. As mentioned above, Google links to news, and helps drive millions of readers to publishers’ sites and apps – rather than carrying news articles ourselves. That creates a huge opportunity for publishers to turn those readers into loyal subscribers or show ads.”

Essentially, Google’s counter-argument is that the news industry needs to evolve its business model with modern consumption behaviors, which is the real solution, not simply paying arbitrary percentages based on flawed modeling.

But that will take time, and significant industry shifts, while it also leaves publishers at the mercy of Facebook and Google’s systems. That’s not an ideal scenario, but the basis of Google’s stance makes logical sense – and either way, Google has shown no sign of shifting in its approach to such in the face of previous, similar challenges.

Better then, maybe, for publishers to work with it – and new initiatives like this could provide a new way for publishers to maximize revenue opportunities, while also maintaining more control over audience connection, enabling them to build on their own terms and platforms.

It’s a very complex area, but Google’s new initiative could help provide another way forward for the industry.

Google says that it’s signed partnerships for its News Showcase with nearly 200 leading publications across Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, the U.K. and Australia. News Showcase will begin rolling out to Google News users in Brazil and Germany from today, and will expand to other countries in the coming months “where local frameworks support these partnerships”.

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5 Considerations for the Future of X Following Elon’s Anti-Advertiser Comments This Week

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X Deactivates Old Media Links Amid Changes to Back-End Elements

So what comes next for Elon Musk’s ambitious “everything app” now that he’s insulted those in charge of the platform’s key revenue stream?

Will X be forced to shut down? Will Elon pay out of his own pocket to keep it running? Can X possibly make enough from subscriptions to offset its ad losses?

There are a range of considerations, and while we don’t have all the answers (because only Elon and Co. have the full data), based on reported insights, here’s what we do know about how X is currently placed.

Will X go bankrupt?

Maybe. Again, we don’t have a full overview of X’s financial situation, because as a private company, it’s no longer required to report quarterly performance statements.

But we do know that X was already set to post a loss for FY 23 before this latest advertiser exodus.

Based on previous data reported by Twitter, the platform generated around $3.96 billion from ads in 2022. In September, Elon said that the company’s ad revenue has halved since he took over, due to concerns about his new direction for the platform, as well as broader market pressures, so we can assume, then, that before this latest ad pause, X had been on track to bring in around $2 billion in ad revenue for the year.

Which is still a lot, and even with a range of advertisers pausing their campaigns, that’s only going to impact this quarter, which, based on a recent report from The New York Times, will cost X around $75 million in ad revenue overall.

So the platform’s still likely on track to bring in around $1.9 billion for the year. Which is a lot less than what Twitter had been generating, but even so, that’s a lot of money that the company’s churning over. So it’s not exactly close to shutting down entirely, depending on costs.

Which is the other complexity in this equation.

In 2022, Twitter’s costs were set to exceed $5 billion before Musk took over at the app, with around $3.8 billion of that in staff costs alone. That’s why Elon set about his drastic cost-cutting plan, which included a cull of 80% of staff, shutting down regional offices, re-negotiating rent deals, closing down a key data center, etc.

We don’t know what the full impacts of these cost-saving measures has been, but we can estimate that, in combination, X’s costs may have been brought down to around $2 billion overall, though there have also been additional costs in GPUs for xAI and other elements that Musk and his team have implemented (it’s unclear if and how these costs are attributed to X Corp, and how that relates to X’s operating margins).

But for the sake of this exercise, let’s say that X’s costs are now $2 billion, and its income from ads is $1.9 billion or so. X is also seemingly on track to bring in an additional $650 million from subscriptions and data/API sales, so overall, even with this ad boycott, X is still looking okay, maybe.

But then there’s also the debt load that X took on as part of Musk’s takeover deal. In order to acquire the full funding for his $44 billion offer for the platform, Elon also took on debt that will cost X an estimated $1.2 billion per year in interest payments.    

So X is currently looking at income of around $2.5b for the year, and costs of $3.2b. Which means that any further loss will only compound this, and if advertisers stay away into the new year, things start to look pretty bleak pretty fast.

So, in summary, right now, for this year, X will probably be okay. But as the losses mount, by March next year, if things don’t turn around, X could be facing billions in losses, which may indeed end up putting it out of business.

Elon’s the richest man in the world, couldn’t he just keep X afloat with his own cash?

Probably, but it’s not necessarily as simple as it seems.

Elon does, of course, have access to billions in capital, and various means to raise more. But at the same time, he can’t just head to the bank and take out a few billion from the ATM to keep X going.

Musk has previously stated that the majority of his wealth is tied up in Tesla, SpaceX, The Boring Company, etc. So while he does have hundreds of billions to his name, he’s not necessarily liquid, and when he wants to cash out, there are processes that must be followed, and impacts as a result, so it’s not as simple as just paying it out of his personal wallet.

In order to find his purchase of Twitter, for example, Elon sold around $7 billion of Tesla stock. Which did not sit well with Tesla investors, who essentially then forced him to promise not to sell any more Tesla stock due to fears that it could tank the company’s value.

Musk also borrowed $1 billion from SpaceX around the time of his Twitter acquisition, which has since been repaid.

So, essentially, Musk can fund X as an ongoing project, but pumping billions into something with no return is not smart business, and won’t be as easy as just transferring Tesla money into X’s coffers.

Maybe other backers will help him, and be willing to take some hits, if Elon can sell them on a path to profitability. But again, telling your key revenue partners to “go f— yourself” is probably not going to win him a lot of corporate support, even from those who view him as a genius.

X is moving towards subscriptions, will that offset its ad losses?

No. Not even close, though that did, initially, seem like Musk’s ambition.

In November last year, shortly after Elon took over at Twitter, he outlined a vague plan to make subscriptions a key revenue driver, eventually accounting for 50% of Twitter’s overall revenue intake.

As per the above figures, that would mean that X would need to be bringing in more than $2 billion per year from subscriptions at its FY 2022 income levels, which equates to around 12 million paying subscribers at X’s highest priced subscription tier.

Thus far, however, X hasn’t even been able to convince a million people to pay for X Premium.

Though you can see the idea, conceptually, and why Musk thought that this was a viable option. Elon’s belief is that the majority of people support his “free speech” push in the app, and at 250 million+ daily active users, convincing just 5% of them to pay seems like an achievable target.

Evidently, that hasn’t been the case.

And while upping the cost of API access, and selling verification to brands has helped to bring in more supplementary revenue, it’s not close to bringing in anywhere near what X generates from ads.

Even at its now lower ad revenue intake, of around $2 billion for the year, its other income streams are far from generating 50% of its overall revenue.

Last month, X said that subscriptions and data sales now make up 25% of its overall intake, which seems like a positive, but that’s mostly due to X’s overall ad revenue declining so much, not its subscription intake increasing.

Will advertisers come back?

This, ideally, would be what X is aiming for, but Musk’s comments this week indicate that he’s not going to any effort to rectify the situation.

In fact, he’s actively pushing ad partners away, while also insulting publications and journalists, who have long been the key drivers of information flow in the app.

The disconnect here seems to be that Elon is associating advertisers abandoning his app with his own ideological view on what X is, and where it stands within the broader “free speech” debate.

This is evident when you look at Musk’s specific wording in his criticism of advertisers this week:

If somebody is going to try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money, go fuck yourself. Go fuck yourself. Is that clear? I hope it is.”

Musk’s view is that advertisers are trying to make X tow the line on perceived censorship, which is not actually what’s happening.

As articulated by YouTube star Hank Green:

Fortune 500 companies aren’t overly moral actors. They make decisions based on whether they think they will make more or less money. Advertisers are not leaving Twitter because they are trying to make a statement or achieve some goal (which would be a boycott). They are leaving Twitter because they aren’t sure whether advertising on the platform is delivering negative or positive value, and why spend a bunch of money doing something that might actually be hurting you.”

Musk’s viewing this from an ideological standpoint, but as Green notes, his business partners are worried about their respective brand value, not controlling what can and cannot be said.

That misunderstanding is at the core of Musk’s defiance, and his stance against advertiser pressure.

Will Elon see it that way, and look into potential failings in the platform’s ad serving system, and indeed his own comments, and how they represent X as an entity?

It seems, at this stage, that Elon is determined to make a stand, that he will not be silenced, even if what he shares is wrong/misinformed/harmful, etc.

That being the case, I’m not sure how Yaccarino and her team are going to be able to pitch ad partners on an improved situation moving forward.

How long does X have?

Well, all of this, of course, is variable, and dependent on a range of factors along the way.

Maybe, Elon does decide that he wants to work with ad partners, and improve the situation, and maybe that then secures X’s user base, and brings back ad partners as a result. X still has hundreds of millions of active users, and offers significant advertising opportunity as a result, so there is still a chance that X can turn things around once again.

But right now, most of X’s growth plans are still vague, while Elon has shown no interest in re-aligning the platform in this respect.

X is looking to implement payments, but is years away from making this a reality. And even if does bring payments into the app, why would people use such a service?

X is rolling out its Grok AI chatbot to more users, but most people already use ChatGPT, and there’s not really a significant differentiation between AI chatbots to make this a more attractive option.

X has added jobs, is looking at dating, and is pushing for more long-form text and video content, all of which is already available in more fully-formed, functional offerings in other apps.

With no big, game-changing advances on the horizon, and Elon standing firm on his advertising stance, I imagine that X could be in significant trouble by March next year, as its Q1 results will show just how far off it is, and how much of a loss it’s facing as a result.

X won’t necessarily report this publicly, but that’s when you’re likely to see more cost-cutting from the app, which will be a signal that it’s in serious trouble. And given that Musk has already cut most elements to the bone, it may well be staring down a massive loss, which could see it considering bankruptcy mid next year.

Things might change, X might re-assess its stances, and this could end up being a blip in its longer-term trajectory. But right now, Elon seems determined to die on his “free speech” hill, cheered on by his many fans, who hang on his every utterance, desperate for his acknowledgment in any form.

If those are the people Musk really wants to impress, then X may well end up being the cost.

And right now, Elon seems just fine with that.  



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With outburst, Musk puts X’s survival in the balance

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Even after Elon Musk gutted the staff by two-thirds, X, formerly Twitter, still has around 2,000 employees, and incurs substantial fixed costs like data servers and real estate

Even after Elon Musk gutted the staff by two-thirds, X, formerly Twitter, still has around 2,000 employees, and incurs substantial fixed costs like data servers and real estate
– Copyright POOL/AFP/File Leon Neal

Thomas URBAIN

Elon Musk’s verbal assault on advertisers who have shunned X (formerly Twitter) threatens to sink the social network further, with the tycoon warning of the platform’s demise, just one year after taking control.

“If somebody’s gonna try to blackmail me with advertising, go fuck yourself,” a visibly furious Musk told an interviewer in New York in front of an audience of the US business elite this week.

Musk was lashing out at the advertisers who had abandoned his platform after Media Matters, a left-wing media watchdog group, warned big companies that their ads were running aside posts by neo-Nazis.

Walmart on Friday was the latest to join the exodus, following the footsteps of IBM, Disney, Paramount, NBCUniversal, Lionsgate and others.

The latest controversy broke earlier this month when Musk declared a tweet exposing an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory as the “absolute truth.”

Musk apologized for his tweet, even taking a trip to Israel to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but on Wednesday he targeted his anger squarely at advertisers.

“It doesn’t take a social media expert to know that publicly and personally attacking the people in companies that pay X’s bills is not going to be good for business,” said analyst Jasmine Enberg of Insider Intelligence.

“Most advertiser boycotts on social media companies, including X, have been short lived. There’s a potential for this one to be longer,” she added.

Musk said the survival of X could be at stake.

“What this advertising boycott is going to do is kill the company,” Musk said.

“Everybody will know” that advertisers were those responsible, he angrily added.

– Bankruptcy looms? –

Even before the latest bust up, Insider Intelligence was forecasting a 54-percent contraction in ad sales, to $1.9 billion this year.

“The advertising exodus at X could accelerate with Musk not playing nice in the sandbox,” said Dan Ives of Wedbush Securities.

According to data provided to AFP by market data analysis company SensorTower, as many as half of the social network’s top 100 US advertisers in October 2022 have already stopped spending altogether.

But by dropping X, “you are opening yourself up for competitors to step into your territory,” warned Kellis Landrum, co-founder of digital marketing agency True North Social.

Advertisers may also choose to stay for lack of an equivalent alternative.

Meta’s new Threads platform and other upstarts have yet to prove worthy adversaries for the time being, Landrum argued.

Analyst Enberg insisted that “X is not an essential platform for many advertisers, so withdrawing temporarily tends to be a pretty painless decision.”

Privately held, X does not release official figures, but all estimates point to a significant drop in the number of users.

SensorTower puts the annual fall at 45 percent for monthly users at the start of the fourth quarter, compared with the same period last year.

Added to this is the disengagement of dozens of highly followed accounts, including major brands such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, JPMorgan Bank and Starbucks as well as many celebrities and media personalities that have stopped or reduced usage.

The corporate big names haven’t posted any content for weeks, when they used to be an everyday presence.

None of the dozen or so companies contacted by AFP responded to requests for comments.

In normal conditions, Twitter or X “was always much larger than its ad dollars,” said Enberg.

It was “an important place for brands and companies to connect with consumers and customers,” she said.

Even after Musk gutted the staff by two-thirds, X still has around 2,000 employees, and incurs substantial fixed costs like data servers and real estate.

Another threat is the colossal debt contracted by Musk for his acquisition, but now carried by X, which must meet a payment of over a billion dollars each year.

In his tense interview on Wednesday, Musk hinted that he would not come to the rescue if the coffers run dry, even if he has ample means to do so.

“If the company fails… it will fail because of an advertiser boycott and that will bankrupt the company,” Musk said.

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Walmart says it has stopped advertising on Elon Musk’s X platform

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Walmart says it has stopped advertising on Elon Musk's X platform

Walmart said Friday that it is scaling back its advertising on X, the social media company formerly known as Twitter, because “we’ve found some other platforms better for reaching our customers.”

Walmart’s decision has been in the works for a while, according to a person familiar with the move. Yet it comes as X faces an advertiser exodus following billionaire owner Elon Musk’s support for an antisemitic post on the platform. 

The retailer spends about $2.7 billion on advertising each year, according to MarketingDive. In an email to CBS MoneyWatch, X’s head of operations, Joe Benarroch, said Walmart still has a large presence on X. He added that the company stopped advertising on X in October, “so this is not a recent pausing.”

“Walmart has a wonderful community of more than a million people on X, and with a half a billion people on X, every year the platform experiences 15 billion impressions about the holidays alone with more than 50% of X users doing most or all of their shopping online,” Benarroch said.

Musk struck a defiant pose earlier this week at the New York Times’ Dealbook Summit, where he cursed out advertisers that had distanced themselves from X, telling them to “go f— yourself.” He also complained that companies are trying to “blackmail me with advertising” by cutting off their spending with the platform, and cautioned that the loss of big advertisers could “kill” X.

“And the whole world will know that those advertisers killed the company,” Musk added.


Elon Musk faces backlash from lawmakers, companies over endorsement of antisemitic X post

02:23

Dozens of advertisers — including players such as Apple, Coca Cola and Disney — have bailed on X since Musk tweeted that a post on the platform that claimed Jews fomented hatred against White people, echoing antisemitic stereotypes, was “the actual truth.”

Advertisers generally shy away from placing their brands and marketing messages next to controversial material, for fear that their image with consumers could get tarnished by incendiary content. 

The loss of major advertisers could deprive X of up to $75 million in revenue, according to a New York Times report

Musk said Wednesday his support of the antisemitic post was “one of the most foolish” he’d ever posted on X. 

“I am quite sorry,” he said, adding “I should in retrospect not have replied to that particular post.”

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