Marketers looking to attract clicks to their sites know that getting content on Google News is a good way to catch consumers’ interests – Crunchbase relays Compete data showing that the site had more than 10 million unique visitors in May 2010. But the clicks that come from Google News are only as good as the content provided, and now Google is taking on a battle with the FTC in defense of the integrity of its news site.
In a recent Google Public Policy blog post, Google addressed the FTC’s concerns about the internet compromising the future of journalism. The FTC is discussing the issue of whether that the web takes the “hot news” away from journalists, while Google suggests some traditional news sources have failed to keep up with the times.
The FTC’s discussion on Potential Policy Recommendations to Support the Reinvention of Journalism indicates that it is considering a policy to “require news aggregators and others to pay for the use of online content, perhaps through the use of copyright licenses” but, as Google points out, “there is no author of [facts.]”
Another discussed issue is whether there should be a consumer electronics tax. Similar legislation has taken effect in the UK, and the Financial Times reports that traffic to The Times online dropped by 58 percent in the weeks following the implementation of a paywall strategy.
In addition to potentially hurting traffic to sites that publish content on news aggregator sites, these proposed FTC measures will likely leave consumers disgruntled. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development reports that 5 percent of all internet visits are related to reading the news, but the Pew Internet & American Life Project reveals that just one in five online readers would pay for online news.
In defense of its site, Google explains that it is not taking profits from any publications. In its official 20-page response to the Federal Trade Commission’s policy discussion, Google News says its content providers and the site itself consider “a realistic assessment of how to make money in a world of abundant competitors and consumer choice.”
Indeed, recent updates to Google News that allow users to specify their news preferences indicate that the site is catering to online readers while also giving companies and other news providers a better chance of finding their niche audiences, which could help them turn profits.
In fact, a number of businesses are seeing profits thanks to quality content posted on news aggregator sites and other web destinations. A recent study from Webvisible shows that nearly half of U.S. small businesses are finding videos and pages bookmarked by consumers are increasing their web conversion rates.
Monitoring the development of these regulations will be worth the time of any marketers who want to use timely content to establish their businesses as credible industry leaders.