Axel Springer in Germany likes Google and wants to build a one-click option for readers to pay for news:
Instead of separate pay walls around individual newspaper Web sites, Mr. [Christoph] Keese [Springer’s head of public affairs] wants publishers and Internet companies to work together to create a “one-click marketplace solution” for their online content. In that system, Google or other Internet gateways would display links to newspaper articles, videos and other content from a variety of providers, as search engines do now. But some of the items would include something new: a price tag.
What kind of content would come at a cost? Any “noncommodity journalism,” Mr. Keese said, citing pictures of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy cavorting poolside with models at his villa in Sardinia — published this year by the Spanish daily El País — as an example.
A single mouse click would allow the user to pay for and view the pictures. Readers could also buy flat-rate packages providing access to content from a variety of media companies, Mr. Keese said, just as they can subscribe to unlimited data access plans via mobile phone networks.
Axel Springer’s plans are contingent on cooperation with Google, a company that [Rupert] Murdoch has accused of “theft,”… But Mr. Keese said Axel Springer was happy to work with Google, acknowledging that publishers could not match its expertise in monetizing digital content.
Nytimes.com has the story here.
Gavin O’Reilly, CEO of Independent News and Media and president of WAN-IFRA, told Google off:
O’Reilly, who is also the chief executive officer of Independent News & Media, a major shareholder of APN, publisher of the New Zealand Herald, said that the search engine needed to understand that copyright law was established 300 years ago and could not simply be abandoned.
“Copyright is not some intellectual abstract – it is the law – and I’d suggest that Google needs to start to work in good faith to find solutions that enshrine copyright, not abuse it,” he told an audience in Hyderabad, India.
He called on Google to accept the Automated Content Access Protocol, and other technology tools which would give publishers greater protection against copyright infringement. “Perhaps now is the time for Google and others to stop protesting and time for Google to start working constructively and openly with publishers.”
nzherald.co.nz has the story here.
Rupert Murdoch said News Corp wants to charge for journalism and might block Google’s crawlers from indexing its content:
On charging for journalism, from the Guardian:
Rupert Murdoch has today reiterated his belief that internet users will pay for content, saying they would be happy to shell out for “information they need to rise in society”.
Murdoch, the chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, gave a wide-ranging address to US media regulators that attacked internet news aggregation as “theft” and claimed that advertising-only business models were dead.
“From the beginning on, newspapers have prospered for one reason: giving readers the news that they want,” he said.
He said newspapers should not blame technology if they failed. “If we fail, we fail like a restaurant that makes meals that no one wants to eat.”
His company’s customers were “smart enough” to know they had to pay for news, Murdoch told a US Federal Trade Commission workshop on the future of journalism in the internet age.
Referring to his much-criticised plans to put his newspaper sites behind a paywall, Murdoch said he had succeeded before when nobody had believed he would, adding: “We started Fox when everyone said it couldn’t be done.”
One News Corporation newspaper, the Wall Street Journal, already charges for content and has 1 million subscribers. “We will expend to extend this model to all our news organisations such as the Times in London. At the Times, there are journalists who invested days and weeks into their stories, and our customers are smart enough to know that they can’t get something for nothing,” he said.
“Producing journalism is expensive. We invest tremendous resources in our project from technology to our salaries. To aggregate stories is not fair use. To be impolite, it is theft.
On blocking Google, from the FT:
Microsoft has had discussions with News Corp over a plan that would involve the media company being paid to “de-index” its news websites from Google, setting the scene for a search engine battle that could offer a ray of light to the newspaper industry.
The impetus for the discussions came from News Corp, owner of newspapers ranging from the Wall Street Journal of the US to The Sun of the UK, said a person familiar with the situation, who warned that talks were at an early stage.
Let’s not forget that Murdoch junior, James, said recently that News Corp was focusing on TV more than ‘journalism’:
Speaking at a conference in Barcelona… [James] Murdoch said: “In the business of ideas, which is the business that we are in, we do think journalism plays a role, and we do think there are business models there that will make a lot of sense, albeit perhaps not at the scale of some of our broadcasting businesses and other entertainment businesses.
“Is it going to be as big a role? No… structurally, television is vastly more profitable and a big opportunity.”
Telegraph.co.uk has that story here.
Ariana Huffington of Huffington Post said Murdoch was missing the point about aggregation and News Corp itself was an aggregator:
“In his speech this morning, Rupert Murdoch confused aggregation with wholesale misappropriation. Wholesale misappropriation is against the law – and he has legal redress against that already. Aggregation, on the other hand, within the fair use exceptions to copyright law is part of the web’s DNA. Period.
“At HuffPost, aggregation goes along with a tremendous amount of original content including original reporting and over 250 original blogposts a day. And we love it when someone links to one of our posts, or excerpts a small amount and links back to us.
“Most sites understand the value of this and the way the link economy operates. It’s why HuffPost gets hundreds of requests from news outlets asking us to feature their material and link back to their site. They understand that the web is not a zero-sum game and that consumers love the freedom to be able to follow where their interests – and the offshoots of a story – take them.”
She added that News Corp sites are also aggregators: “The Wall Street Journal has a tech section that’s nothing more than a parasite – uh, I mean, aggregator – of outside content.
“FoxNews.com has a Politics Buzztracker that bloodsucks – uh, I mean aggregates and links to – stories from a variety of different sources, including the NY Times, the Washington Post, MSNBC and others.
“AllThingsD has a section called Voices that not only aggregates headlines, but also takes a nice chunk of text – and puts the links out at the bottom of the story.
The Huffington Post story is here.
Jeff Jarvis said News Corp blocking Google wouldn’t hurt a bit:
News Corp. leaving Google would be a mosquito bite on an elephant’s ass. Unnotice by Google or by the audience. For there will always be – as Murdoch laments – free competitors: the BBC and Australian Broadcasting Corp, which he and his son complain about, not to mention the Guardian, the Telegraph, NPR, CBC, and any sensible news organization worldwide.
This silliness is emblematic of the end of the Gutenberg age, the industrial age, the age of control, the age of centralization, Murdoch’s age. The problem here is that Google-virgin Murdoch simply does not understand the dynamics of the link economy. He roars against them. Google et al do not take his content, they send it audience and value. It is up to him to exploit that. The business failure here is Murdoch’s, not Google’s.
Jarvis’s post on BuzzMachine is here.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt said ‘we send you guys a billion clicks a month’:
With dwindling revenue and diminished resources, frustrated newspaper executives are looking for someone to blame. Much of their anger is currently directed at Google, whom many executives view as getting all the benefit from the business relationship without giving much in return. The facts, I believe, suggest otherwise.
Google is a great source of promotion. We send online news publishers a billion clicks a month from Google News and more than three billion extra visits from our other services, such as Web Search and iGoogle. That is 100,000 opportunities a minute to win loyal readers and generate revenue—for free. In terms of copyright, another bone of contention, we only show a headline and a couple of lines from each story. If readers want to read on they have to click through to the newspaper’s Web site. (The exception are stories we host through a licensing agreement with news services.) And if they wish, publishers can remove their content from our search index, or from Google News.
The claim that we’re making big profits on the back of newspapers also misrepresents the reality. In search, we make our money primarily from advertisements for products. Someone types in digital camera and gets ads for digital cameras. A typical news search—for Afghanistan, say—may generate few if any ads. The revenue generated from the ads shown alongside news search queries is a tiny fraction of our search revenue.
Eric Schmidt’s post, on wsj.com, is here.
Google changed its ‘first click free’ policy but some people didn’t understand it, according to Malcolm Coles:
The biggest load of old rubbish ever has been written about the changes to Google’s first click free program…. First, a reminder of how first-click free works. If you have a paywall (ie you require registration or subscription to access content), Google has a problem. It wants to index your pages. But it doesn’t want its users to have a rubbish user experience…
The solution was the first-click-free compromise:
- Publishers allow Google behind their paywall.
- Google indexes their content and shows it in its results – on condition that searchers can also see it if they come via Google.
- If seachers click a link in Google, the publisher lets them read that page of content.
- If searchers click any other links on the publisher’s site, the publisher shows them a sign-up now message.
[But] It is easy to circumvent First Click Free if you can be bothered. If you want to read a second story on a first-click-free site, you copy and paste the URL into google and then click the result… The change that Google has announced means publishers can limit to five a day the number of pages a user can see when they come via Google.
Malcolm Coles’s post is here.
Google also launched ‘living news pages’ in partnership with nytimes.com and washingtonpost.com:
Google has now unveiled the result of a collaboration with the NYT and Washington Post to develop a new online story format that fits with the “living” concept. The format features a summary of recent developments related to a topic, along with a timeline. The pages are automatically personalized so that the latest updates on the subject are highlighted for return visitors. Right now, there are only eight “living stories” from the Washington Post and NYT on Google Labs, spanning topics such as the “struggle over health care” and the Redskins football team (See examples here). The pages also are not hosted on either the NYT or the Washington Post websites, although they do play up those publications’ branding. For the moment, it’s also unclear how advertising would fit in.
PaidContent has the story here.
Five US publishers band together over an ‘iTunes for magazines’ ‘newsstand’ concept:
Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp and Time Inc are making it formal: the five publishers are equity partners in a new digital publishing venture with grand designs. They want nothing less than to develop open standards for cross-platform e-reader technology, advertising and digital sales – and they’re going to put their brands behind it. Together, the company says the five represent an unduplicated audience of 144.6 million.
Guardian.co.uk has the story here.
Hearst talks about Skiff, a platform for e-readers and other digital devices:
The incubated startup Hearst is looking to as a digital content savior is now Skiff, LLC, although the better name might be “Swiss Army E-Reader Ink” given all that it’s trying to do. Skiff, led by Gilbert Fuchsberg and headquartered in NYC with offices in Palo Alto, promises a 2010 launch with a “complete” digital content solution that can handle it all but will specialize in magazines and newspapers via a platform that can be used across devices and its own dedicated devices to be sold at retail. It also promises a business model that respects publishers’ needs.
PaidContent has the story here.
NBR publisher Barry Colman writes a letter to consultant Lance Wiggs talking about the execution of NBR’s paywall and what the numbers look like now:
The biggest fear for the site was that our traffic would tank and people would turn to the free sites. This was certainly one of the things that kept me awake at 3am.
It didn’t happen. There has been a reduction but by our own measure of uniques we’ve held on to 77% of them. And, more importantly, the quality of current readers constitutes a group of highly paid, highly educated business people. Exactly the sort of audience NBR editorial has traditionally called its own. And our advertisers will pay to reach.
The second biggest fear, advertising volumes would fall if impressions fell back. It didn’t happen either. Since the launch the advertising booking volume has risen by 21% post paywall.
It’s important to note, however, that the volume of web advertising is feeble compared to NBR print. It was failure of sites everywhere to achieve decent advertising revenue that convinced us that web readers would have to pay to finance a real newsroom service.
The number signed up and growing is now at 7500 and growing.
We have sold individual subscriptions and bulk subscription licenses to some of the biggest companies in the country, which enables all their staff on their domain name access the paywall.
The real access number based on the computer-enabled employees among the corporate subscribers is in the region of 21,000. But the access rights purchased are being heavily used by the senior executives and partners and not the by junior staff, which make up the majority of the employees. Hence our internal estimate is 7500.
I don’t want to break down the details of these numbers because we are in a very competitive business. But our corporate clients include some important early adopters including Russell McVeigh, Minter Ellison, the Reserve Bank, NZTE, Colliers International, AMP Capital, Commerce Commission, Ernst & Young, Chapman Tripp, AWS Legal, University of Canterbury, NDA Engineering Ltd, Institute of Chartered Accountants and Forsyth Barr.
And Lance Wiggs and I talk about a few related issues with Russell Brown on TVNZ’s Media 7: