When it comes to Google and other aggregators, newspapers face a sort of prisoners' dilemma. If one of them escapes, their competitors will pick up the traffic they lose. But if all of them stay, none of them will ever get enough traffic to make sufficient money. So they all stay in the prison, occasionally yelling insults at their jailer through the bars on the door.
None of this, by the way, should be taken as criticism of Google. Google is simply pursuing its own interests – those interests just happen to be very different from the interests of the news companies. What Google can, and should, be criticized for is its disingenuousness. In an official response to the recent criticism of its control over news-seeking traffic, Google rolled out one of its lawyers, who put on his happy face and wrote: "Users like me are sent from different Google sites to newspaper websites at a rate of more than a billion clicks per month. These clicks go to news publishers large and small, domestic and international – day and night. And once a reader is on the newspaper's site, we work hard to help them earn revenue. Our AdSense program pays out millions of dollars to newspapers that place ads on their sites."
Wow. "A billion clicks." "Millions of dollars." Such big numbers. What Google doesn't mention is that the billions of clicks and the millions of ad dollars are so fragmented among so many thousands of sites that no one site earns enough to have a decent online business. Where the real money ends up is at the one point in the system where traffic is concentrated: the Google search engine.
Over and over again I see instance in which numbers are quoted and reporters, bloggers, pundits can't even be bothered to reach for a calculator.
I'm glad Carr knows how to use the / function; I wish more people did.
Comments are closed.