Google has come under frequent fire from the publishing industry over the past few years, whether that’s for unfair algorithm changes, not doing enough to stop ad blocking, and most frequently, hoovering up ad dollars that were meant for publishers.

Some of these criticisms are well-deserved, and Google should rightly be held to account when it comes to algorithm transparency and how its actions affect the wider industry.

But the widely-held view that Google as part of the Duopoly is taking revenue that would otherwise end up in publisher’s pockets is too simplistic a take on what is quite a complicated issue. Many media analysts have already picked apart the New York Times story which wrongly claimed that Google made $4.7 billion from the news industry in 2018, but the fact that stories like this get shared so widely is demonstrative of a wider problem that Google is an easy target.

This week, the Media Voices podcast sat down with Madhav Chinnappa, Google’s Director of News Ecosystem Development, to find out why he believes Google’s place in the publishing ecosystem is fundamentally misunderstood.

The many different ad spaces of Google

The point Chinnappa was keen to emphasise when it comes to Google’s relationship with publishing is that when it comes to serving ads, Google are the supplier. “The way that we interact with the news ecosystem is very much around a revenue share model,” he explained.

“In this space, in the space that we operate in, the space that’s relevant to digital advertising to publishers, we only make money when publishers make money, because we’re an ad tech supplier. That’s different from the other tech companies but it’s important to understand our role in that.”

“And so therefore we’re sort of selfishly incentivised to want the news ecosystem to thrive, because if they thrive and they make more money, we end up making more money.”

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