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The Challenge: Google and Facebook are two of the biggest companies in the world and use their monopoly power to scoop up 80% of online advertising revenues, leaving journalists and publishers across Canada to remain uncompensated. News Media Canada, the national association of the Canadian news media industry, wanted to demonstrate the danger this reality poses to the future of Canadian news.

The Objective: The campaign was primarily designed to raise public awareness of the tech giants’ actions, and to spark conversation on the issue. The secondary objective was to encourage Canadians to contact their Member of Parliament with the end goal of enacting policy change.

“Google and Facebook control the onramp to the internet highway in Canada.They decide what we as a sovereign nation see and don’t see in the news. To make matters worse, they take the news produced by Canadians and don’t pay for it.”

 – John Hinds, President and CEO, News Media Canada

The Plan: Previous awareness campaigns were directly aimed at the government. This campaign targeted Canadian consumers, who have become increasingly aware of the issues surrounding Google and Facebook. The Disappearing Headlines campaign included print ads in daily and community newspapers across the country, launching on Thursday February 4, 2021 in major markets, with follow up in secondary markets on February 9, 11 and 18, 2021.

The Creative: Printed newspapers featured blank front pages to demonstrate what would happen to Canadian news media if immediate action were not taken.

“We wanted to show Canadians what it would be like if the news was not there when they needed it.”

– John Hinds, President and CEO, News Media Canada

The Results: More than 100 daily and community newspapers took part in the print campaign that featured blank front pages across the country raising awareness and generating consumer action. Overwhelming response to the campaign indicates that Canadians clearly care about sustaining trusted news content in Canada.  Website traffic spiked with more than 10,000 new users in the first week of the campaign and almost 1,500 copies of the report were downloaded. With continued support, the campaign’s end goal of policy change is within reach.