Facebook, Google & their impact on freelancers in Australia
In recent developments of the saga involving Google and Facebook versus the Australian government, Google has been moving towards striking private deals with news publishers to circumvent the Australian government’s recently proposed media legislations, while Facebook has taken the hard approach of banning users in Australia from accessing its news content altogether.
The Australian government has been contemplating new regulations that would necessitate global media giants Google and Facebook to pay for the display of news articles and other content from Australian news publishers on their search engine. That has sparked a threat from Google to shut down its search engine in Australia altogether. The impact of that event occurring in Australia would be similar to a tsunami, with devastating consequences for millions of people, businesses and organisations.
Google recently signed multi-million dollar deals with Seven West, News Corp, Nine Entertainment and Guardian Australia, amongst dozens of deals made with news publishers in Australia. The deals would allow these major Australian news publishers to join Google’s Showcase platform, where users can have access to paid content on the platform for free.
A short while ago, Facebook announced its decision to block Australian users from viewing or sharing local or international news on its platform. In addition, Australian news publishers are banned from publishing new posts on their accounts. Actions are being taken to reverse the news ban, following talks between Australia Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg.
Unfortunately, as collateral damage in Facebook’s overnight decision to ban news publishers, governmental, health and charity organisations, emergency hotlines, as well as millions of small businesses have also had their Facebook pages and posts blocked. Although that is currently in the midst of being reversed, it brings about a whole discussion on the dependence of businesses and organisations on social media platforms and the online traffic that those platforms bring.
With approximately 2.8 billion global users and 16 million monthly Facebook users in Australia alone*, Facebook is the top social media being used by Australians, with Youtube following closely behind. Would this change in the future, following Facebook’s overnight botched news ban? Probably, as it has already created a significant amount of dissent amongst users in Australia.
Google’s statistics are even more impressive. With approximately 4 billion worldwide users (there are 4.39 billion Internet users in total), 77 thousand Google searches per second, and a 90% search engine market share**, it is without doubt that if Google follows through on its threat to remove Google Search from Australia entirely, many small businesses and freelancers would be severely impacted. Google takes up 40% of the market share in online advertising in Australia and may make up 90%*** of the sales revenue of small businesses and freelancers (***as disclosed by freelancers on our platform).
What does this mean for freelancers and small business owners? We might need to take a really hard look at our target areas in online marketing, and avoid putting all our eggs in one basket. Arguably, in the recent decade, advertisements on Google and Facebook have been one of the main marketing focuses of freelancers and small businesses.
Most of us have used social media and online search engines for so many years that it might seem like those platforms would be a part of our lives indefinitely. However, it would be wise to remember that we do not own the traffic coming from social media platforms and search engine advertisements, but are merely leveraging from them. Therefore, losing the traffic from these platforms in the blink of an eye might mean a substantial loss in online traffic and overall sales and business. That, in turn, may impact small businesses and freelancers much more significantly than bigger businesses.
In the subsequent issues of Australia Freelance Market News, we will discuss ways to increase the variety of marketing activities for small businesses and freelancers, thus diversifying the risk of putting all of one’s eggs in a basket or losing all traffic in the event of such occurrences. Stay tuned!
Statistics have been obtained from *here and **here
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This article was published in the Australia Freelance Market News 85.