I heard an interesting piece on the radio this morning about various news organisations and their plans to drastically reduce the amount of free content they currently provide on the web. This got me thinking about a number of aspects that have relevance to the internet marketing world. The basic premise behind the story was that the free content provided by on-line newspapers was not paying for itself in the form of advertising and was also having an adverse affect on the sales of their traditional printed newspapers.
My first thought is that if these guys with their huge traffic figures can’t make advertising pay then there seems to be little hope for the rest of us! But to me something just doesn’t add up here. Surely a major reason for the emergence of free on-line content from newspapers was as a response to dwindling circulation figures. People either thought that the newspapers didn’t offer good value, or perhaps like myself, they no longer find the time to sit and read a newspaper on a daily basis. Either way, do they seriously expect people will just start to cough up their hard earned dough again as soon as they put their content behind a paywall? I have my doubts.
One other interesting aspect of the story was Rupert Murdoch’s News International, who were threatening to remove all their content from Google unless they got paid for it to be there. I’m sure Google are quaking in their boots! If News International and other like minded organisations chose to follow through on this threat, would we actually miss this conetent? Would other organisations not simply step in to fill the void? My expectation would be the latter, and I suspect that since they could easily remove their content at the drop of a hat, News International also know this. So is this all hot air and bluster or will it ever happen?
Well who knows, but look on the bright side, if all this content does just disappear from Google, it should certainly open up a few choice key phrases for organic searches that weren’t worth competing for previously!