Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Is delisting from Google a financial model?

I've recently mentioned the Forrester report that states that 80% of Internet users would not bother to pay for newspaper content online. Yet the belief at News Corp is that there is still a model to be had from sticking up a pay wall and hiding your content from Google (and charging Microsoft for the privilege of displaying your content).

Perhaps this is the "rewriting the economics of newspaper" that James Harding, Editor of The Times talked about last week? Here he talked about charging a fee for a 24 hour view of the newspaper online (figures of around £1 have been mentioned, but obviously an annual subscription would be less than this).

But is there a possible financial model to had from de-listing from Google? Well... Bill Tancer at Hitwise has done this work, albeit taking just one News Corp newspaper as an example... The Wall Street Journal.

His findings are that although WSJ.com gets over 15% of its traffic from normal search (which quite possibly isn't that valuable to Mr Murdoch, as this is predominately brand searches, not searches for content), it gets 11% of its traffic from Google News. Now that must surely contribute to 11% of all landing page advertising inventory and any successive page that the visitor then moves onto?

So.... unless Bing can provide this sort of replacement revenue to News Corp.... how are they hoping to make more money (not less) from de-listing from Google and going to a Bing-only search engine model?

Obviously the answer is they are hoping to make further money from their paywall subscriptions. Although the WSJ may need to seriously consider whether its readers will be happy about paying for their paper and well as having to deal with intrusive/distracting in-page advertising.

And now proof of the UK paywall model for local content is about to be put to the test. Today, news has surfaced that local newspaper publisher Johnston Press will start an experiment to charge for access to its weekly websites from next week, although they have yet to announce they are de-listing their content from Google.

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