Google slammed, Google praised at newspaper conference

Eamonn Byrne from the World Association of newspapers asked the panel at the last session of this congress: Is partnering with a search engine a good idea?

The media industry have two main issues with Google. (1) They believe that Google is unfairly using and profiting off publisher’s content. Hence the arrival of the Automated Content Access Protocol (ACAP), which I personally think will eventually be a mechanism for publishers to extract revenue out of Google for spidering their content. (2) Publishers have issues with the fact that Google is becoming a powerful intermediary between the advertiser or agency and the publisher via Adsense. (Publishers value their direct relationships with advertisers and agencies). They also have issues that in most cases Google does not share commission rates for adsense.

Moritz Wuttke, CEO Asia Pacific, Publicitas Promotions Network. Says that “these giants are good for two things”: International (and sometimes national traffic) to your website and to challenge your organisation’s strategic and creative thinking… ie we should learn from them.

Otherwise, “that’s all they are good for”.

He says that giants like Google have “disruptive business models”. He says online publishers “should not give our business models over to these search giants”.

Wuttke has a softer stance on Yahoo! He believes that Google and Yahoo! have a different approach to newspaper content. He says Yahoo! believes the content belongs to the newspaper, whereas he says Google doesn’t… so it appears that he supports partnerships with Yahoo!, but not Google.

He believes publishers should rather team up with a competitor and generate revenues themselves than partner with Google and let the search giant take a share of advertising revenue.

Francois Groepe CEO Media Newspapers from Media24 was asked his opinion, and said that “the amount of traffic from search engines to our websites is relatively low”. Err, what? It is a known fact that Media24 rakes in tons of traffic from Google, as do many other sites in the country and the rest of the world. Groepe also mentioned something general about the need for countries to co-operate on “this threat rather than be parochial”.

Mike Smith — Executive Director Media Management Centre/Northwestern University. delivered a more cogent view, saying “newspapers need Yahoo and Google more than Yahoo and Google need newspapers”. He says Yahoo and Google have cuttting-edge technologies that newspapers don’t have. He says the battle will be over who owns the customer. Both these search engines have information on users, which they are not sure what to do with — but that is a lot more than what newspapers have.

He believes however that the power paradigm will shift. Yahoo! and Google will be weakened in the future over legislation. He says this will not come from the newspaper industry but from the entertainment industries copyright concerns.

Mike says that as long as all the parties adhere to the standards of the alliance he does not think that “newspapers are giving away anything”.

My view is that I don’t like the fact Google is not transparent about their advertising commissions for adsense, but I personally think that Google is the best thing that ever happened to the web, and for publishers. I also think that Google needs more competition, but I believe that will come. They are market leaders because they are brilliantly innovative — now why is that a sin? And why should they be persecuted for it?



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