Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corp, did an interview with Sky Australia News the other day. In the interview, he mentioned the idea of removing content that they intent to charge for from search engines. He explained that the people coming from search engines are not people who would subscribe to the content, even if it is free. They come to the site, glance around and leave. He prefers to have less paying traffic than more free traffic. The interview is 37 minutes long and you can view it on YouTube.
Remove a site from Google? What? Noooo!!!!
The interview was posted on YouTube on 11/6/09. People lost their minds about it. I was amused then I became irritated at the silliness of the people ranting. A couple of A-List bloggers said Murdoch was foolish for removing content from Google and the drone followers sang the same tune, in a crescendo harmony that became highly annoying. They called Murdoch an idiot, a moron, stupid…a long list of names.
We shall ignore the people making these claims not having shit or accomplished shit compared to Murdoch. Just sayin’….
Have you ever searched Google (or any search engine) looking for content, think you found a good article, click over and find that it is a premium article you need to pay for? Did you pay or did you go back to the search engine and find another article? Most people do not pay. The site has subscribers so they do not rely on search engine traffic. They have other marketing methods to secure paying customers.
If one were to do the math on how much it costs to provide free content versus how much it costs to have premium content, the costs might be more in line for premium content. Traffic might be less but it is quality traffic, people who like the site enough to pay for the content. The people paying are their true target audience, which is much easier to provide content for.
So what’s the problem?
People don’t know when to shut up
It is ironic that one of the things people say they love about America is freedom of choice. Yet, when one tries to use their freedom of choice, they are criticized for it. Murdoch has a very good point: all content should not be free. That is a ridiculous assumption. Do you like to work for free? No? Why? You need money? Really? Companies need to make money to pay employees. Go figure…and you’d think the people criticizing Murdoch volunteered their services to their employer every day.
Yes, search engines send a lot significant traffic to NewsCorp sites, but so does Digg. The Digg Effect will bring you a ton of traffic, eating up a ton of bandwidth, but most of those visitors do not stay. Let’s also consider that if NewsCorp decided to charge for content they would be attempting to reach a completely different audience, using different marketing strategies, etc. They would have a smaller target audience, less expenses and not necessarily less income.
Newspapers are hurting. Wise business people try to avoid problems prior to them affecting them. Electronic newspapers are fine. I have no problem paying for services I use. The target audience they are attempting to reach would not have a problem paying for content.
Let’s be real: If the decision is made to make NewsCorp articles premium content, will the world come to an end? No. If you don’t want to pay, you’ll find the content elsewhere. You might whine for a little bit but life will continue because one of the beautiful things about the news: it is everywhere. Even if other newspapers follow suit and become premium content only, there are other sources for news – like TV stations putting news online for free.
And Murdoch is smart enough to know that.