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Hello Digital looks at the highlights from the week that was.

Join us as we take a look at the biggest news in digital, from Google investing $1 billion into news publishers, GameStop shaking up the U.S. stock market, gambling apps coming to the Australian Google Play Store, and more.

Read on for the latest in digital. 


Google announce a $1 billion investment into news publishers

If you’ve jumped onto Google today, you would have noticed the notification at the top of all search results pages. Google is addressing (again) the proposed Australian media bargaining deal with news publications. Google’s most recent statement? “We are willing to pay to support journalism”.

The notification links to their most recent statement surrounding the debate and outlines their “$1 billion investment in partnerships with news publishers”. In the fairly passive aggressive company news article, they detail their initiatives over the last several years that have been in support of the news industry, listing “sending 24 billion visits to news websites globally every month, to the Google News Initiative’s $300 million commitment, including emergency funding for local publishers globally to help with the impact of COVID-19.”

Despite all of this, they are announcing that they are building on their long-term support with an initial $1 billion investment into partnerships with news publishers all over the world and, as they put it, “the future of news”.

The article doesn’t speak specifically to Australian users and makes no mention of the fact that only last week they threatened to remove Google from Australia if the proposed News Media Bargaining Code became law. Instead, they highlight that their News Showcase has signed partnerships with almost 200 leading publications across Germany, Brazil, Canada, the U.K. and Australia. 

With their announcement of a “new kind of news experience”. So while they are investing in these news partnerships, it may change the way users access and read news. You can read more about this in their statement


U.S. Senate will hold hearing on the stock market after the Reddit GameStop squeeze

Heard of GameStop? You most likely will have by now. It’s hitting the news big time after causing volatility on the U.S. stock market, so much so that the Senate will hold a hearing on it.

The retailer GameStop has more than quadrupled in value over the past week after a Reddit-organised campaign has rapidly boosted the company’s value. It has caused such a spike in the company’s value and market volatility that several markets are blocking any more purchases of the stock to stem hedge fund losses.

But in doing so, it has also sparked a broader conversation about the institutional bias in U.S. financial markets. Senator Sherrod Brown, the incoming chair of the Senate Banking Committee, made a statement yesterday about the next steps they will take:

“People on Wall Street only care about the rules when they’re the ones getting hurt. American workers have known for years the Wall Street system is broken — they’ve been paying the price…It’s time for the SEC and Congress to make the economy work for everyone, not just Wall Street. That’s why, as incoming Chair of the Senate Banking and Housing Committee I plan to hold a hearing to do that important work.”

You can read more about the GameStop and the hearing on The Verge


Australia is getting gambling apps on Google’s Play Store 

Due to an upcoming change to Google’s Play Store policies, Australian users will soon be able to access gambling and betting Android apps that use real money. These apps are currently allowed in four countries, in Brazil, France, Ireland and the United Kingdom. But with the news rules starting on March 1st, Australia, along with Belgium, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, United States, and nine other countries will permit the apps. 

Each country will be able to place its own limitations on what kind of online gambling is legal, so Australia could see many restrictions on what this actually means for Play Store users. Some countries will be allowing online casinos, sports betting, lotteries, and daily fantasy sports, while others will be more restrictive.

You can read more about the changes in this article


Local service ads might start impacting Google Ads accounts

In September last year, Google launched local service ads to select industries. They started with lawyers. The change was intended to help users making local searches and finding more relevant and helpful results in ads. Search Engine Land has now told users to start paying attention to the local service ads option in the Google Ads platform, even if they’re not available to you yet. 

Many marketers and advertisers were interested to see how the changes would impact where people click in the search results. It was assumed that the ads would start to steal clicks away from the local pack results, which are the three Google My Business results that Google displays at the top of the search results page. However, some advertisers were surprised that although it did lower the click-through-rate of the Google My Business listings, the average impact was only a loss of about 5 clicks a month.

This might not be the same across all accounts and industries, but it’s an interesting result to see. Read more about it in Search Engine Land’s article