Will Facebook and Google Be The Death Of The Internet

What happens when the walled gardens strangle all the publishers that they surround? Possibly the death of the internet..

In a recent forecast by leading agency holding companies Publicis Media and WPP (Zenith Media and GroupM respectively), each paint a picture of marked success for digital advertising but a bleak doom inspired picture for many other internet publishers. Why? Google and Facebook capture the dominant portion of all digital advertising dollars with Amazon quickly closing. In fact, they capture nearly 20% of all media spend at this point, according to the reports.

“GroupM believes these two companies will account for 84% of all digital investment in 2017 (excluding-China). GroupM also believes the two will account for 186% of digital growth in 2017. This is exceedingly bad news for the balance of the digital publisher ecosystem. “

So why should one be concerned, how did we get here and what can be done about it?

There are thousands of publishers that create content and help to make the internet what it is. What would happen if many of those companies shut down? Because of the nature of media businesses margin in decline, most agency teams buy scale. This means that smaller publishers have a harder time breaking through.

I recall a meeting a couple of years ago where Sir Martin Sorrel said his biggest competition or threat was not the other agencies, but rather Google and Facebook. So did anyone listen to this concern? NOPE! Nearly every agency is now reporting declines and call into question the health of their own margins at a time when “their biggest threat” is growing happier and fatter.

In an age of blockchain technology and great sophistication of data-driven or audience based marketing, we have an opportunity to stop the hemorrhaging and save the patient (the internet and it’s many publishers in this case). The promise of a new programmatic solution that enables companies to band together to share and enhance data on a distributed ledger, find the same valuable audience we covet in Facebook and Google and do so without having to bet big on the walled gardens may be the way forward.

What is quite troubling is that these two behemoths grade their own homework, regularly put brand safety at peril and continue to see increased spending. Sure there may be a drop here or there as clients band together to combat brand safety or other issues, but inevitably, the let’s jump in, the water’s nice feeling seems to reappear. Let’s be honest, Facebook and Google are good companies at their core who do many things very well — but if we can ban together we stand a better chance of at least getting them to play ball and share a bit more and to be more open if there is some level of pressure.

The bigger questions is can we actually ban together and partner as opposed to putting up the proverbial stiff-arm.