Feeds

Google and Murdoch - a divorce made in heaven?

It's about money, but not bribes from Bing

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Analysis Microsoft is known for its robust methods, but the widespread belief that it is attempting to 'buy' the news, offering to pay Rupert Murdoch's News Corp to de-index its news sites from Google speaks of extreme brutality, even by the Borg's standards. And think, people - if Microsoft really is offering to bribe major publishers to dump Google, might not the regulatory authorities have something to say?

Photo: New York Public Library

So let's all just calm down, and try to figure out what might really be happening. First of all, consider what Murdoch himself has been saying. Earlier this month he said it was likely that News Corp would pull its titles out of Google search once it started charging for them, and: "We'd rather have fewer people coming to our website, but paying."

Now consider what Google has been saying - that it doesn't make money from news, and that Google does not need news content to survive. Google doesn't need News Corp, and News Corp reckons it could get along just fine without Google.

It's not like anybody involved cares...

So it's a divorce made in heaven? The financials back Murdoch to an extent. The Wall Street Journal, News Corp's paywall poster child, gets around 25 per cent of its traffic from Google, but obviously gets no subscription revenue from that, and it's not traffic that can be easily monetised. Silicon Alley Insider, using a methodology which we suspect may have included eye of newt, estimated that the WSJ only made $10-$15 million from its Google-derived traffic. We suspect that estimate might be on the high side, and it's likely that traffic coming from Google News (estimated by Hitwise at around 12 per cent) is worth a tad more than general search traffic.

Hitwise also reckons that Google search traffic (as a perentage of total WSJ readership) to the WSJ has doubled since 2006, while Google News traffic has tripled. In the world where Google is the gift that keeps giving, this is A Good Thing - but there are reasons why Murdoch might disagree here.

As Rupe says, the traffic isn't worth much. For subscribers, the WSJ is able to deploy demographic data in support of its ad sales operations, while for Google blow-ins it isn't. So from the WSJ's perspective unidentified one page clicks from Google aren't going to be worth a lot, and insofar as they mean that the sale isn't 100 per cent subscriber, they may even cost money.

Murdoch's pitch is all perfectly logical - almost. It fits the WSJ pretty well, but trying to apply that to The Times or the Sun falls into the 'rather you than me, Rupe' category. The other obvious question is, if you wall off Google - or even all search - traffic entirely, how much is that going to impact reader recruitment? News Corp may well have some internal data on that, we don't. It's possible, however, that the answer is not a lot.

Google's impact on the traffic of publishers is not as great as people tend to believe. If you cut off Google you'd take a hit (around 25 per cent for the WSJ, according to the Hitwise numbers), certainly, but people would still hear about you even if you started blocking all link traffic without even bothering to redirect it to the front page. It's by no means certain that circulation would collapse, or go into a steady decline as readers died, if Murdoch just dropped out of Google.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Kaspersky backpedals on 'done nothing wrong, nothing to fear' blather
Founder (and internet passport fan) now says privacy is precious
TROLL SLAYER Google grabs $1.3 MEEELLION in patent counter-suit
Chocolate Factory hits back at firm for suing customers
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Sit tight, fanbois. Apple's '$400' wearable release slips into early 2015
Sources: time to put in plenty of clock-watching for' iWatch
Facebook to let stalkers unearth buried posts with mobe search
Prepare to HAUNT your pal's back catalogue
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.