The good and the bad of the Google+Facebook Media Duopoly
Part 2 of 2
Last time, I spoke about the benefits and downsides of the Google+Facebook duopoly in digital media from the perspective of brands. I want to tackle the agency and perspectives now.
Why is the duopoly good for agencies
Unifying all media under 2 platforms significantly streamlines operations. Agencies can share best practices across accounts, save on training time and effort, and dig really deep to become experts. All the while they don’t have to worry about not reaching fewer people, because, and let’s be honest, the Big Two cover pretty much everybody in one shape or another.
Easily accessible support
It’s easy to find outside support for either Google and Facebook since they are both widely used platforms. Countless best-practices articles and whitepapers, certification programs and courses (independent or otherwise), and a myriad of conferences make it easy for agency experts to find all the answers they are looking for to better serve their clients on both platforms.
Why is the duopoly bad for agencies
Competitive advantage is diminishing
Under the media duopoly, it becomes harder and harder for agencies to prove competitive advantage based on media management alone. Basically everyone is using the same system, with the same data and the same best practices. Agencies have to invest aggressively in each platform’s ecosystem to get certified and get better support from the motherships.. Alternatively they can differentiate themselves on additional services. The ones who can’t, end up competing on price and offering discounts, which is an unfortunate reality.
Add to all that an extremely low barrier to entry into each platform — you can open an account with a credit card. Now, you’re left with a competitive landscape for agencies that is difficult to navigate.
Why is the duopoly good for publishers
Small/Micro publishers can play to win and large publishers can scale
The obvious winners of this duopoly are small and micro publishers. From the newly formed internet magazines to the micro blogger and vlogger, the path to monetization and scale have never been shorter. On the other hand medium to larger publishers can scale much much faster without big investments in advertising technology.
Why is the duopoly bad for publishers
Renting vs. Owning data
The big drawback for publishers is that they don’t own their own data. They have to rely on Facebook and Google to provide them data about their audience (and in cases readership — if they publish on Facebook, for example). Effectively they are renting their data from the Big Two, which makes them extremely dependant on those platforms. With all the mystery about how Google and Facebook report, it could be a real challenge to find out how a publisher is actually doing.
Both Google and Facebook are here to stay and their hold on the global media industry is getting even stronger. In 2016 99% of US digital media growth was attributed to Google and Facebook. Only 1% to all other companies. That being said 3 distinct things will happen in the next few years:
Other companies are competing for their position aggressively. The two prime examples being Snap Inc. and Amazon. While Snap Inc. is still struggling to define who it is, Amazon is leading the charge with a unique first-party data platform. Other paid ad platforms like Twitter, for example will become less and less relevant.
On the other side, publishers are forming alliances to combat the duopoly. All the while the industry is changing towards paid subscription models that aim to abandon the”interrupt your regularly scheduled programming” revenue model. This makes publishers less reliant on ad revenue and more independent from Facebook and Google.
On the technology side, as voice and AR/VR mature even newer media will emerge that can be monetized. Google is perfectly set-up to capitalize on voice with Google Assistant and Facebook bet its money on AR/VR. It remains to been seen, which technology paces ahead of the other one.
For now, what’s your Facebook and Google strategy?