Microsoft Backs Australia's Digital Media Law; Maryland Is This Close To Taxing Online Ad Revenue

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Pay Up

Microsoft is advocating that the US follow Australia’s lead and copy a proposal that would require tech companies to pay newspapers for using their content. It’s also suggested, unsurprisingly, that its very own Bing search engine could be a viable alternative to replace Google in the country. Google is far and away the dominant search engine in Australia. Google has threatened to yank its search engine from down under if the proposal is passed into law, claiming that it would set an “unmanageable precedent,” The Wall Street Journal reports. Facebook has also balked, warning that it would bar Australian users from sharing links to news articles on its platforms. Both Google and Facebook have said they are willing to invest in local publishers as one way to negotiate fair compensation. They also argue that publishers benefit by having links to their content appear in search results and on social media because it sends users directly to their sites. Google's chief legal officer Kent Walker blasted Microsoft for supporting the proposal and accused the company of maneuvering in an attempt to increase its much-smaller search market share. Business Insider has more.

Big Tech Tax

Maryland is taking a page from Europe’s playbook as it looks to lean on Big Tech. The New York Times reports that lawmakers in the state are on the verge of issuing the nation’s first tax on revenue derived from digital ads sold by companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon. Maryland politicians, struggling with massive budget gaps due to the pandemic, have made no secret that they want a slice of the ad industry’s pie. Maryland’s House of Delegates voted on Thursday to override the governor’s veto of the proposed law, and the State Senate is expected to follow suit. The tax could generate as much as $250 million in the first year after enactment, with most of that money going to schools. If the tax passed, it would signal the arrival on US shores of a policy pioneered by European countries, and it’s likely to set off a fierce legal fight over how far communities can go to tax the tech companies. Other states are pursuing similar efforts and are part of an escalating debate about the economic power of the tech giants and their status as gatekeepers for communication and culture.

TikTok Moves On

With the Biden administration putting the sale of TikTok to Oracle and Walmart on ice, the short-form video app is quickly becoming a staple on media plans, with more ad dollars expected to flow into the app this year. With the future of TikTok in the US no longer an urgent question, marketers feel more comfortable upping their spend, Digiday reports. According to buyers, improvements to TikTok’s ecommerce capabilities, including its recent partnership with Shopify and a new dynamic catalog ad unit that’s currently in beta, are swaying marketers to open their wallets. “In 2020, marketers were wary of the stability of TikTok,” said Madelyn Lydon, associate director of PR and social media at ad agency OH Partners. “It seemed like a big risk to invest dollars without knowing the future of the app.” But now that the runway is clear and users are starting to spend more time on TikTok than they are on Facebook, it’s “crucial for marketers to provide those users with content,” Lydon said. “Otherwise, they risk getting left behind.”

But Wait, There’s More!

Facebook’s nascent oversight board says that other social networks are welcome to join if the project succeeds. [TechCrunch]

Clubhouse and other audio-based social networks are attracting users – and Hollywood denizens and tech bros and Elon Musk – with a simple appeal: hearing another human voice. [WSJ]

Political groups rarely have the same targeting capabilities as major companies but, even so, increasingly narrow political targeting could have disturbing implications. [Brookings]

Here are five reasons why Apple’s move to limit the use of its IDFA is very good for CTV. [MediaPost]

Twitter has permanently suspended conservative activist group Project Veritas. [The Verge]

SPACs are the hot new way for startups to go public – and a booming “side hustle” for people with star status. [Business Insider]

You’re Hired!

Nexstar has named Lori Tavoularis as its CRO. [release]

Finecast, GroupM’s addressable TV groups, has brought on Matt Stephens as head of client engagement and Georgina Fox as head of operations. [AdNews]

App retargeting company Remerge has appointed Patrick Eichmann as general manager of the Americas. [release]

Attention analytics startup Adelaide has hired Ethan Rapp for the president role. [release]

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