Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Big Media Grousing About Google, Just Like Everybody Else

crying-babyAnyone who makes money–or who is trying to make money–publishing on the Web is obsessed with getting more out of Google and its firehose of traffic.

Here’s a novel approach from a coterie of big media brands, including the New York Times (NYT) and Disney’s (DIS) ESPN: Complain loudly that the search engine isn’t treating you fairly.

Ad Age’s Nat Ives reports that digital publishing executives, including John Kosner, who runs digital media for ESPN, and Martin Nisenholtz, who oversees digital at the Times, have been grousing that their stuff doesn’t show up high enough in Google’s (GOOG) search results.

That’s the same complaint that just about every Web site in the world has, because everyone knows the value of Google juice.

But Ives quotes publishers–all of whom are anonymous except for the two I’ve mentioned–who feel that their stuff deserves special treatment because their content is inherently more valuable, and because so much of the Web riffs off/rips off their work. In fact they’d probably point to this very post as an example of a derivative work that should show up lower on Google’s results than the original story.

But it’s unclear what the big guys think Google can actually do about this.

“Publishers said they’re not asking for a leg up over amateurs and link-happy bloggers. ‘This would in no way mean that only professional content publishers would get an advantage,’ one said. ‘It really just says that the original source, and the source with real access, should somehow be recognized as the most important in the delivery of results.’

Google says it’s trying but can’t just flip a switch to deliver pro publishers’ dreams. ‘There’s absolutely value to original content,’ a spokesman said. ‘There’s value to derivative content, too. We look at this in many ways from the point of view of the user. But the truth is there are so many shades of gray even within, quote, original content.’”

I’d also warn publishers to be careful of getting what they wish for. If Google was somehow able to train its bots and spiders to suss out material that was truly original, it’s entirely possible that many of the big guys wouldn’t be happy with those results, either.

[Image credit: bbaunach]


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