Today, Rupert Murdoch said he was going to remove his websites from Google’s index. This includes major publications like the Wall Street Journal – among others. This aligns with his latest strategy of charging for content maintaining a clear model on how news organizations will monetize – by charging people to consume their content.
Your first thought is “Why would he do that? That’s suicide for a website”. When you sit down and think about it – there are huge implications and a real strategy behind it. The strategy behind this move is obvious as content distribution has begun to flow through the social graph rather than via search. This change in content flow has remarkedly increased the relevancy of the burgeoning link economy – whereas content is ranked by inbound links that are defined through the social graph.
This means that if a news story is posted by 1,000 people on Facebook pointing to “Source A” and the same story is posted by 500 people on Facebook pointing to “Source B” – “Source A” wins out. This is the new link economy and another reason why local newspapers are failing.
In a world where links are currency and the social graph is our marketplace search inevitably becomes less important.
While I think the link economy is a huge step forward in how content is consumed, I still have my doubts. This is where my disconnect occurs with Murdoch’s strategy -> While the link economy model works in real time, you are still leaving out the long tail of news content – search.
Mark Cuban says this is a brilliant move for News Corp as Facebook and Twitter become the primary drivers for content distribution. This is correct in the real-time scenario we discussed above but still lacks a long tail strategy. If I want to find information and news articles about the Iowa Flood of 2008 I’ll generally rely on search rather than perusing through the disorganized mess that is Facebook and Twitter archives. Beyond that, you can’t even get to Twitter timelines more than 3 months back – so how does that help?
Strategy aside – what other implications does this have? When I heard the news I immediately had the same thought as Jason Calacanis (that’s good, right?). A couple weeks ago Doug and I had a conversation about net neutrality – how it would affect the net and small businesses who operate on it. I brought up a sickening thought of content silos and walled gardens where telco companies had control over how that content was to be consumed.
We talked about how this model threatened the state of the web as we know it. TimeWarner could easily shut off its content and only distribute it on its own networks to its own subscribers – say only people using Comcast. On the other hand they could block their competitors content. In my scenario Comcast would, for instance, block YouTube and only allow Hulu. They could also block Google because Microsoft had paid them to only let Bing search their content…
This is exactly where Calacanis is going with his post… Suppose Murdoch has his News Corp sites block all search spiders except for the highest bidder. In this hypothetical scenario Microsoft would pay $20 million a year for Bing to have exclusive rights to spider its content while blocking the Google search engine. This would fundamentally shift the web as we know it.
As Jason says in his email…
So, for a moment, imagine a world where Bing could say in their TV commercials:
“Want to search the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and
3,894 other newspapers and magazine?”
This is huge news. This could change the web – especially with the richest man in the world inducing the change.
What do you think? Do you like Murdoch’s strategy? What do you think about a world where search engines have exclusive rights because they are the highest bidder?
Let us know in the comments