Commentary

Asking Google To Pay For News Is A Perilous Idea

The head of Google's Australian operations this week responded to the country's revised plan to force the company to pay media outlets for news in the country. The response was well reasoned and convincing, and it casts doubt on how much money publishers can expect to extract from Google.

If anything, news outlets should be wary of any scheme that makes them financially dependent on the company, which claims it doesn't make any money from showing news headlines and links to publishers.

“Google Search doesn't make any money when a user clicks on a news search result, rather when users click on ads, " Mel Silva, managing director of Google Australia, said in a blog post. " News.google.com has no ads, nor does the news results tab on the search page.”

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Google doesn't monetize the news, raising questions about how valuable publisher content is to the company. Instead, publishers monetize the traffic that Google generates by selling banners, native advertising and subscriptions on their sites.

Google allows publishers to determine how much of their content appears as snippets in search results, which arguably may dissuade readers from clicking through to see a complete story. But how else will that content be discovered without teasing the reader? That's the essence of headline writing.

"Studies show that snippets encourage people to click through to websites, meaning that publishers get more visitors seeing ads on their sites," Silva said.

While I'm sympathetic to publishers that feel like they're being robbed by Google, it isn't clear how the search company is damaging them financially.<

Google is enormously powerful as the gateway to the internet for billions of consumers. The company deserves scrutiny for controlling what information people see, including controversial news that many governments want to suppress. Conceivably, the company can change its indexing algorithms and make a publisher disappear from search results overnight.

There are parts of the company's operations that are more deserving of antitrust scrutiny, such as its dominance in the digital ad market.

The U.S. Justice Department and state attorneys general are examining whether Google has abused its power, which likely will grow as the coronavirus pandemic inflicts greater damage on smaller rivals for digital ad dollars.

1 comment about "Asking Google To Pay For News Is A Perilous Idea".
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  1. Craig Mcdaniel from Sweepstakes Today LLC, May 6, 2020 at 8:33 p.m.

    I have mixed opinions about this. The publishers do gain in posting in Google Search. Many of those post are up for years and helps the publishers in the Search Rankings. On the flip side, Google puts on over oppressive rules now on publishers. Example, Google rules in 2012 was a publisher could have 4 banners on the front page. Now that number is 3. If that has changed they haven't told me. If the publisher didn't or couldn't reply then they took away banner revenue. Because I was a very early client of Google AdSense they gave me a big revenue increase in banner revenue to ADD more banners. This cost us money to redesign the site. It was worth it. 

    My point is I would be happy with the rules that were prior to 2010. That was when the rules was truly free market in principle. 

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