Google vs. Aus Government: That Escalated Quickly! The Facts

What’s the situation?

Have you heard of the Australian Government’s News Media Bargaining Code? In a nutshell, the legislation proposes that Google and Facebook pay for links to local Australian news content.

 

What happens next?

The legislation is currently with the Senate for review, who are expected to release their ruling on passing it into law or rejecting it, in the coming months. However, today Google’s Australian MD, Mel Silva, has said “If this version of the code were to become law, it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia,” To be clear, she has said this is also the last resort.
 
Google has repeatedly said they’re happy to work with local media businesses under a code, and it’s even made moves to start paying certain publishers. However, they have continued to object to the legislation as it stands. 
 

So what’s really happening here?

A lot of posturing in the negotiation process. It’s highly unlikely that it would come to this. As with any negotiation, each party will outline their worst-case scenario before they work to meet in the middle. 
 
But what if this law passes and Google follow through on their ultimatum?
 
Then we adapt… and fast.

We turn to other tools in the media and eCommerce toolbox to drive sales (remember, there was a world before Google) and if it did happen, everyone would be on a level playing field. So you wouldn’t be competitively disadvantaged.  
 
There are also other search engines out there. From Bing to YouTube (the second biggest search engine in the world), these would quickly play a bigger role to meet huge consumer demand for our habitual search behavior. Microsoft alone would spend millions pushing Bing as an alternative to Google to meet that demand. Would we also see Amazon rise as a search engine in Australia? 
 
Alongside this, we would likely have to invest in different stages of the funnel, like more demand generation communications. Something we recommend all brands to do consistently.
 
Words by David Kennedy, Creative Strategy Director

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