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Murdoch and Forbes Media Empires Are Obliterating American SME’s

Hardworking American business owners and SME’s are facing an onslaught from news properties owned by the Murdoch and Forbes empires. This comes as websites like Forbes.com and Marketwatch.com, both owned by these two wealthy media empires, are gunning aggressively after the affiliate market.

Quick facts:

  • Forbes and Marketwatch are rapidly rising in comparison and review related searches. These are spaces typically occupied by smaller niche publishers.
  • Antitrust laws have been harsh on Google but media moguls were spared as they merely had to comply with FTC labelling types such as “sponsored” or “affiliate commission”. 
  • Research shows that established media empires with strong domain authorities can easily enter new markets and unseat existing SME’s, causing major losses in revenue. 

One particular concern is fair competition and the way in which purchasing power is being redistributed. As they say, Americans vote with their wallets. But those who get Americans to vote with their wallets in the B2B space, are the affiliate marketers – since it is their recommendations that are being followed.

What a co-incidence that it is also those who get Americans to vote in elections are now also influential in how they vote with their wallets? As we’ll illustrate with the example of the LLC space:

The startup landscape: LLC providers

As can be seen, in the LLC formation space: the Murdoch Empire’s MarketWatch, is tipping just three providers: Zen Business, IncFile and NorthWest Registered Agent – this was the case on 7th September 2022:

In the same industry, The “Forbes Advisor” – which also runs on commission, again tipped Zen Business, IncFile and a company called Inc Authority. As can be seen below, on the same date, in a guide on starting a new LLC, certain “featured partners” are suggested by Forbes:

The above examples of a narrow range of options, provided by media mogul-owned properties, essentially owned by two wealthy families (Forbes and Murdoch) – are steering B2B spenders in a certain direction, cutting out numerous other companies. For example, companies like Tailor Brands, Doola and Globalfy – all which are highly innovative, are nowhere to be found. They thus have to rely on smaller affiliates and publishers to scoop up the breadcrumbs after Forbes and MarketWatch took their piece of the revenue.

Multiple industries affected:

There are numerous industries affected by this: For example if we look at Forbes Advisor, it affects where you host (webs hosting), where you insure (insurance providers), where you take a loan (loan companies) and a range of other services.

Can Google soften the impact?

An ever narrowing group of companies seemingly share the spotlight when it comes to consumer decision making. It is only Google who can, through fairer policies, level the playing field to hand back power to specialist SME’s. Currently, with SEO strategists concurring that domain authority of bigger news sites take precedence in ranking versus smaller specialist entities, the evidence is there that big players are prioritized in ranking – even if they are new to certain markets. The LLC position tracking below demonstrates this reality:

LLC ranking position tracking:

Can EU Marketplace regulation provide a framework for fairer competition?

The Marketwatch search results for review content is not accessible in the EU. In my opinion, it is clear that the Murdochs were more successful at getting Google and Facebook to dance to their tune in Australia. But in The European Union, new laws on marketplace search results will aim to create a mirror effect of the offline world in an online environment, seeking to prevent the unfair exclusion of market players online, in search results.

In an EU antitrust action, The EC (Commission) fined Google €2.42 billion for abusing dominance as search engine by giving illegal advantage to own comparison shopping service. This may have interesting repercussions for the legal risk assessment of family entities that seek to dominate the world through their media empires.

In the meantime, as the FTC and European Unions are a little slow to catch up with digital realities, SME’s who participate in affiliate publishing – as well as smaller merchants who are not in favor with these big old family-owned media sites, are getting obliterated as their search rankings tumble.

Conclusion:

In fairness to the abovementioned empires, their own revenues in display advertising were dwindling thanks to issues with Google Adsense and ad blockers. This newly found revenue stream gives hope in the digital sphere. Yet it comes at the expense of others, introducing a reset in strategy for small players, based on principles that are entirely unfair and dangerous for the market.