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A more level playing field in 2023?

The chancellor’s recent pronouncement regarding the DMU offers hope for publishers.

By James Evelegh

A more level playing field in 2023?

Last week, in his autumn statement, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said: “We will legislate to give the Digital Markets Unit new powers to challenge monopolies and increase the competitive pressure to innovate.”

This is potentially very significant and points to publishers possibly playing on a more level playing field in 2023.

It comes at a time when the big digital players have lost some of their swagger. The verdict in the Molly Russell inquest helped shine a spotlight on the darker side of the algorithms that drive user engagement on these platforms and has led to renewed calls to regulate.

There certainly seems little doubt that Facebook et al could do a lot more to control what happens on their platforms.

As Dickon Ross points out in his article in the upcoming Nov/Dec issue of InPublishing magazine (not on the mailing list? Register here), “in Germany, where it’s illegal to deny the holocaust, any such pro-Nazi posts don’t last more than seconds,” so “the lack of action looks less like a problem of ability and more like one of willingness.”

On top of that, Meta’s share price and profits have fallen sharply this year, whilst Twitter’s very survival is looking in doubt under its impetuous new owner, Elon Musk.

While big tech’s still considerable fortunes appear to be on the wane, publishers are successfully getting their house in order. The demise of third party cookies looks likely to accentuate the value of publishers’ premium content and their engaged and increasingly logged-in users.

The legacy mindset that publishers exhibited in the early days of the internet, as they tried vainly to preserve lucrative but under-threat revenue streams is a thing of the past and we’re working more dynamically and collaboratively.

The ‘enemy’ is no longer other publishers, it’s everyone else out there vying for our audience’s attention. Publishers are better placed than ever to take advantage of any regulatory changes when they happen.

(Finally, on Tuesday 6th December, we’re holding our next webinar, ‘How data can be used to optimise subscriber retention’, where I’ll be moderating an expert panel consisting of Claire Overstall, SVP, Global Head of Customer at The Economist, Abi Spooner, former Customer Strategy Officer at Dennis Publishing and Shailesh Mallya, co-founder and CTO at Acrotrend, who are sponsoring the webinar. Click here for more information and to register.)

You can catch James Evelegh’s regular column in the InPubWeekly newsletter, which you can register to receive here.