Toronto Star Announces Suspension of Meta Advertising – Less Than 1 Second of Meta Revenue

The Toronto Star has announced that it will suspend advertising for Meta. By the time you read the headline, Meta made that money back multiple times over.

Earlier this week, the government announced that it will be suspending their advertising spending on Meta. The dollar figure of the advertising campaign was tallied to be about $10 million in advertising spending. While for most people and businesses, that is a lot of money, for Meta, that’s not even pocket change. As we noted at the time, that amounts to less than one hour of revenue for Meta.

While the dollar value is laughable, large media outlets have suggested that maybe the Liberal party should also join in on the very boycott they are trying to egg on. hilariously, the Liberal party refused, no doubt knowing just how much value they get out of it. So, they would rather lead a boycott as long as it’s someone else’s advertising campaigns that are on the line. The refusal has led to a very awkward rift between the political parties and big publishing – the two lonely sources still trying to push this seemingly failed link tax policy.

With the rift between the political parties and big publishing being apparent, it seems that some of the big publishers are choosing to go it alone with their campaign to boycott Meta. Recently, the Toronto Star said that it would suspend all advertising on Meta. From Global News:

The company that owns the Toronto Star is joining other Canadian media companies in pausing all advertising on Facebook and Instagram.

The immediate pause is in response to Meta’s plan to block access to content from Canadian news outlets on its platforms, Torstar Corp. said in a press release Thursday evening.

“We vigorously object to Meta’s unprecedented plans to block our content on its platforms in protest against the federal government’s Online News Act,” said Torstar CEO Neil Oliver in the press release.

“By its action, Meta will be deliberately closing one of the main ways that Canadians currently access news. Such access is critical for the long-term health of our democracy.”

Now, mysteriously, they news report doesn’t say how much money is involved here. Of course, thankfully, you have Freezenet here to do the digging. According to the Facebook transparency report page found by Freezenet, the advertising the Toronto Star had on Facebook doesn’t seem to have amounted to much. So far this year, it looks like the Toronto Star spent, optimistically, $3,292 in advertising on the platform.

As you might recall when we did our earlier write up, Meta made $117.346 billion over the course of the year. Assuming there are 31,536,000 seconds in a year, that would amount to about $3,721.02 of revenue for Meta every second. It’s a dollar figure that easily eclipsed what the Toronto Star put in advertising for the year up until now. Even if we double that amount and assume that’s what they would have spent over a year, that’s still less than two seconds worth of revenue for Meta.

For Meta, a totally reasonable reaction would still be the famous “Oh no, anyway” meme:

The other thing to keep in mind about this is the fact that this is the Toronto Star we are talking about here. This is one of the biggest cheerleaders for the bill, so their reaction of trying to be part of this boycott isn’t really surprising. The impact this is going to have is highly questionable.

However, the thing to remember is that, for the hardcore lobbyists gunning for this imaginary free lunch, the problem they see is that this whole issue of the platforms walking is somehow a messaging problem. For them, if they continue to forgo basic journalistic principles and push this messaging, that, somehow, this is supposed to make a difference. It would explain why the handful of people participating in this so-called boycott are so reluctant to be forthcoming about how much money is being pulled. For them, it’s about messaging and making a splash in headlines.

The problem, obviously, is that the problem they are facing right now is not a messaging problem. It’s a legal, technical, and business problem – a mess that big publishing themselves created in the first place. Screaming that platforms are a threat to democracy isn’t going to get them to forgo their plans of dropping news links. Withdrawing a few hundred dollars in advertising revenue isn’t going to get the platforms attention. Even if you get a third of the country on board with this fantasy idea that the platforms are waging a physical war on Canada (and that’s exceedingly optimistic), it’s really unclear how that’s going to get the platforms to change their minds.

This is not to say that the Toronto Star’s decision isn’t going to have an impact anywhere at all. It will definitely have an impact on the Toronto Stars reach. After all, they have been paying for advertising for a reason. If they knew that the advertising wasn’t going to have a net positive impact on their bottom line, then they wouldn’t have been advertising in the first place. Whatever value the Toronto Star is getting out of that advertising, they are about to lose that value in the process. Between Bill C-18 and this seemingly destined for failure boycott, the supporters of this bill have gotten a real knack for self-inflicted damage.

At any rate, it seems like the temper tantrums are continuing. It’s not going to solve anything, but given that supporters of the legislation and the government have no real other options at this stage, it’s probably about all they are able to do at this point: throw a hissy fit.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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