Techdirt’s got a post, “from the short-term-stupidity dept.”, about a Japanese newspaper publishing co blocking Google from displaying their content in Google News (i.e., not allowing deep linking). Mike goes on to say:
:The newspaper is upset that people might go directly to the news they want, as opposed to visiting the front page first. This is short-term thinking. There are a lot of news sites out there, and the ones that make it more difficult to get to what people want will lose out. Instead of driving more people to a front page, it will drive fewer people to their overall website. It’s a little worrisome that a modern news agency would actually turn away one of biggest channels that could drive them traffic.:
And, Mike might be right. He might also, however, not see the implications from a newspaper perspective.
Imagine that you’d built and run a company for 50, 100 or even 150 years. You’ve worked hard to become a trusted source of local news and information. You’ve sustained operations (and even earned a profit) by selling advertising. Life is good.
‘Suddenly’ (from the perspective of a 150 yr old company), your customer’s needs start changing. They want to read your content online; they want your content on-demand, rather than at the start of every morning. You spend the time and money to build an online service to satisfy these customers, in an attempt to maintain and enhance the brand you’ve built. You also optimize your site, based on a usage flow that pre-dates search, to try to extract revenue; barely enough to run the online operation, and certainly not enough to pay the cost of acquiring and developing your content.
Then, someone decides to aggregate your content, and that of thousands of your competitors, without your permission. Worse yet, this aggregator has a global brand, and is used by several orders of magnitude more users than use your online site or read your daily print.
GREAT you think! “I’ll get access to SO MANY MORE USERS.” But then you realize… most of these users aren’t local; they don’t care about me or my brand, they just want to consume my expensive-to-produce content. And, even worse, they don’t have the decency to surf through your home page (and click on your advertising) or investigate your nav to look at all of the other services (affiliate links, links to your online classified ordering system, etc) you use to “monetize” traffic; again, they just want free access to your content.
So how valuable are these users to your business? And, do you really want to shoulder the expense of serving them?
Media Co’s, in particular newspapers, must change their business model (and certainly their site design) if they are to extract value from users who see them as commodity providers, vs. a trusted & valued source of local news and information. But how to accomplish that… is not entirely obvious. Whatever the answer, it had definitely start soon and work in the long term, or many of today’s media co’s will wither to a shell of their former glory; some might say the early signs are already there.