World Association of Newspapers claims Google-Yahoo ad deal will harm newspapers

The World Association of Newspapers has urged competition authorities in Europe and America to intervene to stop an online advertising deal between internet search giants Google and Yahoo because it will threaten newspapers.

WAN is concerned that the deal is anti-competitive and would return lower advertising revenues to newspapers. It has called on the European Commission’s Competition Directorate, the US Department of Justice’s Antitrust division and Canada’s Competition Bureau to block it.

Google announced in June that it would let Yahoo use its advertising technology and allow it to display Google adverts next to its search results, a system currently undergoing a 100-day trial.

But many fear that more collaboration between the two biggest search engine companies would mean a weaker and less competitive market and less revenues for newspapers.

‘WAN believes that the competition that currently exists between Google and Yahoo is absolutely essential to ensuring that our member titles receive competitive returns for online advertising on their sites, and for obtaining competitive prices when they purchase paid search advertising,’said Gavin O’Reilly, president of WAN and chief operating officer of Independent News & Media, in a letter to the competition bodies.

‘In our view, the proposed advertising deal between Google and Yahoo would seriously weaken that competition, resulting in less revenues and higher prices for our members. WAN is also concerned that this deal would give Google unwarranted market power over important segments of online advertising.”

Though the deal is confined to America, WAN said anti-competitive conduct in the States would have an impact in Europe.

WAN, which represents national newspaper associations in 77 countries and 18,000 titles worldwide, has long voiced its concerns at Google’s increasing hold on the search and display advertising market.

Newspapers should ‘earn a fair market return for the right to display ads and search boxes on their sites”, said WAN in a statement today.

Advertisers will increasingly migrate to Google since they will see diminishing price advantages to advertising through Yahoo, the Paris-based organisation said. ‘The proposed deal will fatally weaken Yahoo as a competitor for these deals,” WAN concluded.

WAN also criticised Google for refusing Yahoo permission to show Google adverts on the websites of new publishing partners it acquires after the deal – therefore taking away Yahoo’s ability to compete with Google.

It has also been a leading advocate of ACAP, a group of publishers seeking to control more of their copyrighted material in the face of Google’s web crawler technology, which scours the internet for stories to be indexed on Google News.

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