Business models, Platforms, Podcasts

Digital Content Next CEO Jason Kint on the great challenge of the Duopoly

Jason Kint, the CEO of Digital Content Next, the trade association for online publishers, takes us through the organisation’s aims and ambitions, why the Duopoly has skewed the playing field for digital publishers, and why it is vital that Google and Facebook can be held accountable for a lack of transparency.

In the news roundup Chris and Peter discuss the NYT’s chief executive Mark Thompson’s take on the state of local news, Pinterest taking an editorial role over the elimination of antivax content, and whether Medium’s Netflix-like approach to content creation can work. Chris makes wild, unsubstantiated claims about his Tetris skills.

In our own words: Peter Houston

The member list for Digital Content Next reads like a who’s who of online publishing. The New York Times and The Washington Post are there. Condé Nast and Hearst. Slate and Vox Media. Even WebMD and The Weather Channel.

What holds these businesses together under the DCN umbrella is a focus on digital content creation and distribution. “Every one of these companies has a direct relationship with both the consumers and the advertisers,” DCN CEO Jason Kint explains.

Those relationships and the pain points around how the Duopoly of Facebook and Google has disrupted them shaped our guest interview this week.

Early in the interview, I labelled Jason a critic of the Duopoly, and he is. But he was careful to point out that Google and Facebook are not all bad. He says they are ‘important and positive players’…if they can be controlled.

“They’ve got the best engineers on the planet, and they’ve got more money than anyone. They have the ability to do real moon shots.” The problem lies in figuring out how to take control.

We spoke about the role both the government and advertisers can play. Jason think it’s important that both step up, but worries that advertisers can’t or won’t.

“These advertisers are so beholden to the channels that they’ve developed with Facebook and Google that it’s hard for them to just speak out. And they’re so small relative to these businesses.”

That leaves it to government bodies, and here Jason is cautiously optimistic. He is at least a fan of the recent DCMS report in the UK.

“As much as we in America made a joke of Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony to Congress and the questions that were asked, I think that the DCMS committee is proof that the lawmakers can actually step in on behalf of the public they represent and get educated.”

Looking forward, he thinks data regulations like GDPR (if enforced properly) can help rebalance the market by limiting the ability for data to be collected all across the user’s life.

“To be able to have what we have in our pocket at all times, in terms of an information device, versus what we had 10 years ago, is quite profound.  Does that mean that just because I can pull out a device and, basically, I have access to any information I want in the world, that Google should also be able to track every single foot that I walk?”

For Jason and his members, the answer to that is clearly no. And I’m not sure any of us would disagree.


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