Google And Newspapers Continue Their Ambivalent Courtship
Ambivalent is word that best describes newspaper publishers’ relationship with Google and Google News in particular. Some publishers see Google as a partner or potential partner and some consider Google to be the devil incarnate, responsible for virtually all their woes. For its part Google sees itself as a supporter of newspapers, helping them by […]
Ambivalent is word that best describes newspaper publishers’ relationship with Google and Google News in particular. Some publishers see Google as a partner or potential partner and some consider Google to be the devil incarnate, responsible for virtually all their woes.
For its part Google sees itself as a supporter of newspapers, helping them by driving traffic to their sites and potentially developing a payments platform that can better help them monetize their content in the coming return to pay walls. Google CEO Eric Schmidt has spoken out publicly many times in support of the role and importance of newspapers and Google’s desire to help the industry.
PaidContent interviews Google News Business Product Manager Josh Cohen about a range of issues concerning the site itself and Google’s relationship with publishers. There are no real zingers or revelations but there is honest discussion from Cohen about some of Google News’ shortcomings and there are some interesting other bits. Here are a few edited excerpts:
PC: How are the search ads that were introduced earlier this year to Google News working out?
Cohen: I’d say it’s comparable in terms of the effectiveness when we are showing results to it for certain categories.
PC: With some other aggregators, like Digg, there seems to be so much more user engagement. You don’t really see that on Google News.
Cohen: There’s a lot more we can do on the social nature of news. I think Digg does a great job of that. There’s such a social nature to how information overall is consumed now. We have some things were working on in that area.
PC: What do these discussions with [newspaper] publishers amount to?
Cohen: Some of those discussions are purely around the user experience: What does it look like on Google, how can we work together to improve the experience of our users who come to Google News to look for content and also think about what are the ways we can work together to help improve the product side of it. Much of the discussion today is about the business model.
Cohen also says in response to a question about why Google News looks the same as it did a couple of years ago that there might be a “backlash” from publishers (PaidContent’s phrase) if the site were improved and enhanced. But as Google News improves usability it would theoretically become a more effective partner and potential revenue generator (as a payment platform) for publishers.
That paradox captures the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” position Google News is in with the industry. Why aren’t newspapers similarly upset with other online news sites and aggregators? Google isn’t the leading news site/aggregator online:
Google is the just most visible symbol of how the Internet has all-but-capsized the newspaper business. However, as the Trulia blog shows, the decline in classified advertising, a major source of newspaper ad revenue, has been happening for more than a decade and longer than Google has been in existence.