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November 9, 2009

Rupert Murdoch: Media Mogul in Crisis or Cutting Edge?

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Rupert Murdoch 2009
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Murdoch’s at it again. Chairman and CEO of the massive media conglomerate News Corp., Rupert Murdoch stated during an interview that he plans to block search engine giant Google from News Corp. sites.

From the interview with Sky News Australia:

Interviewer: [The search engines'] argument is that they’re directing traffic your way. That when someone goes to Google and punches in a topic, searches a topic, and gets a link to a news Web site, that’s someone who wouldn’t otherwise go to your Web site.

[...]

Murdoch: What’s the point of having someone come occasionally, who likes the headline they see in Google, come to us? Sure, we can go out and say we have so many millions of visitors, you’d better advertise, and so on. The fact is, there’s not enough advertising in the world to go around to make all the Web sites profitable. We’d rather have fewer people coming to our Web sites but paying.

Deep breaths, now. Let’s all stay calm.

Chances are your initial reaction is to come out of the gate swinging. [Actually it was rather inappropriate giggling and a very tasteless senility joke. I apologize for the ageism. --Susan] We’ve been conditioned to do so thanks to our training and experience as evangelists of the Web and the power of search.

Murdoch’s not the only one to get this warranted reaction out of us this year. The National Association of Realtors® and another the Associated Press have both raised their voices in outcry over Google taking credit for unique content without giving back much perceived benefit.

In the past I’ve fallen on the “stop fighting the inevitable and make it work for you” side of the fence, but let’s take a look at this multi-faceted debate before jumping to any conclusions.

On one side of the ring, “Dancing with the Stars” fan favorite Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says that Twitter changed the game. While Google refers traffic, Cuban writes, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter do that and then some.

TWITTER AND FACEBOOK are platforms that allow the news sources, like newscorp to post breaking news and gain value from their brand. Google does not. In other words, if I trust a newspaper, tv or any brand, I can follow it on twitter and expect the news to come to me. The concept of “If the news is important, it will find me” works better by the day.

Playing referee, Guardian tech editor Charles Arthur recognizes Murdoch’s comments as coming out of frustration over the end of the news industry that was, and eventually every publication will have to decide if the price is right. What will bring in more revenue: advertisements contingent on high traffic, and thus, search engines, or reader subscription model? (And are those really the only options?)

Representing the defending champ, Internet marketer Andrew Shotland gives us an example of exactly how well the subscription-based method worked in another familiar medium: radio. When one popular radio personality committed to subscription-based SiriusXM radio, the writing was on the wall. “Out of sight = Out of mind. NoIndex = NoVisibility.”

And of course, Google has no trouble shielding itself from blows, reminding us that there’s a simple solution for any publisher who wants to keep content out of a search engine index.

Think of how much attention has been given to an organization deciding how to use its own content. Google has openly given publishers a clean and simple solution to opting out of the index (along with any benefits that go with it). Why does it bother us so much that a mammoth publisher like News Corp. wants out? I wonder if it’s because we’ve worked so hard in evangelizing the business and Web community that it kills us to see an argument from the other side of the debate get such high visibility in the mainstream media.

The way I see it, if News Corp. finds a profitable and viable way to charge for their own content, the more power to them. And if not, guess who will be knocking on the door of search engine marketers everywhere in no time flat?





3 responses to “Rupert Murdoch: Media Mogul in Crisis or Cutting Edge?”

  1. Lisa Williams writes:

    The search landscape is constantly changing and after 13 years, I quit saying “That will NEVER happen.” Rule still remains, unless you’re giving people value they can’t get somewhere else, they will go somewhere else. In order for this plan to work, Rupert Murdoch’s news has to be better, stronger, faster for anyone to care. Best of luck, he’s always been such the bastion of power to the little guy;)

    Chris Anderson made this point beautifully in “Free”.

    Wrote a post today about

    “Why SEO (and Search) is a Dirty Word”
    For as long as Google owns 70% of market share for search, we’ll all probably care about having our content indexed.

    Thanks for the insight!

  2. Ahmad Barirani writes:

    I agree with Murdoch’s view when it comes to a website that has a respectable traffic. When a website needs to push for its content, search engines can be an effective way.

  3. lofa writes:

    Good. Let him block his propaganda garbage from Google. Who cares about Murd(er)och. He’s just another greedy money monster.

    As the old saying goes, a fool and his money soon part.



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