Dear Rupert: You Don't Succeed By Making Life More Difficult For Users

from the this-will-not-work dept

Well, look at that. Last week it was just a silly suggestion from some netheads, and now come reports that Rupert Murdoch is at least in the early stages of considering opting out of Google, with Microsoft paying it to be “exclusive” on Bing. Apparently, Microsoft has actually approached a few publications about doing similar deals. It’s no surprise that Microsoft and Murdoch would explore this. Microsoft has experimented for years with programs to bribe people to use its search engine over Google’s — but it hasn’t done much to help. Meanwhile, Murdoch continues to not actually understand how the internet or copyright law works, and has some oddly misplaced dislike for Google (despite the fact that Google alone is pretty much what kept Murdoch-owned MySpace alive for years, and Murdoch owns a bunch of sites that aggregate info just like Google).

Still, if this does go forward, it will signal incredibly short-sighted thinking on the parts of everyone who participates. The initial reaction would be significantly less traffic to any site that agrees to participate, considering that Google still drives a ton of traffic to most major sites. Simply giving that up for a chunk of cash is a very risky proposition. Second, in factionalizing the web, it harms everyone. No one wants to have to think about which sites are included in which search engine, and if the battle begins in earnest, then you have a situation where you end up in an inevitable stalemate, with certain sites in Google’s search engine, but not in Microsoft’s, and others in just Microsoft’s but not Google’s — and no one wins. Third, the cost of this program to a company like Microsoft to make it meaningful is huge. It’s much bigger than the numbers that were being tossed out before. Finally, all this would really do is open up new opportunities for one of three things (or a combination) to happen (1) a new meta search engine shows up that aggregates both Microsoft and Google results (2) technology hacks that will allow you to combine the two results in one or (3) Google realizes that it has copyright law fair use on its site and keeps indexing sites anyways. I’m not sure Google would take that last step, but if things go nuclear, it might make the most sense.

But the key thing is that none of this does anything to help users. And that’s the problem. It’s not adding even the tiniest sliver of additional benefit to users. And these days, that’s a strategic error. If your business is focused on making life more difficult for a competitor, rather than adding more value to users, you’re doing the wrong thing. Microsoft and News Corp. should be trying to provide more value to users, and instead, they seem to be plotting ways to make consumers’ lives more annoying and more difficult. They may think that’s smart, but in the long term, such strategies always backfire.

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Companies: microsoft, news corp

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Comments on “Dear Rupert: You Don't Succeed By Making Life More Difficult For Users”

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69 Comments
Ima Fish (profile) says:

I love the zero-sum game Microsoft plays. It’s not enough to win (and other than Windows and Office, Microsoft rarely wins*) It’s about making the competition lose.

This fits in perfectly with that strategy. Even if the plan fails, it makes Google a slightly lesser search engine because an entire website is removed from it.

It also puts pressure on Google to start paying websites to promote them, which makes no sense. I don’t know any yellow-pages type director listing which pays companies to publish phone numbers. It’s always the other way around.

Of course this will fail because it’s not enough for people to switch search engines. The stories about the news found on Rupert Murdoch’s websites can and will be found on other sites via Google. The average user would never see any difference. While traffic to Rupert Murdoch’s websites will drop significantly.

* And don’t even mention the XBox/360. Sure they have sold a lot of them, but overall the company has lost billions on them. Losing billions of dollars is in no way a success.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

But google doesnt make advertising money off the news .....

Google doesnt make money off the news, they seem to do the news more as a public service. I dont see how this is a smart move for microsoft for that reason. This doesnt have an ROI (return on investment) for miscrosoft short term or long term. Here is what is going to happen ….

1) Only Microsoft crawls the news websites
2) bloggers get a hold of the articles through bing and write about he news
3) google indexes the blogs and finds the articles anyway

So at most this will delay google getting the news by 20 or 30 minutes ….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: But google doesnt make advertising money off the news .....

Google makes tons off the news, and makes money off of every service they offer, with or without ads. They make money because people like you use their brand, and when it comes time to search, you use their search (and see their expensive pay per click ads).

In the end, Google ends up with people writing about the news, and Bing has the actual news. I know where I will go for news (and it ain’t google).

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: But google doesnt make advertising money off the news .....

Actually google doesnt advertise on its news page.“Google and the others don’t actually make much, if any, money in aggregating all of that content. At best, it’s a loss leader for most such sites.”

“In the end, Google ends up with people writing about the news, and Bing has the actual news. I know where I will go for news (and it ain’t google).”

You missed my point entrirely. Because of the way the search engines and the blogs work, any information that is exclusively on Bing wont be exclusive to Bing for very long. Like me many people get daily news from links through blogs, sent through social networks, texting, IM, and emails. That is becoming more important. The news finds me I dont find the news anymore. The Bing exclusive news deal wont change that.

since you seem to be a troll, there is a bridge in london you might be interested in crawling under …

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: But google doesnt make advertising money off the news .....

“In the end, Google ends up with people writing about the news, and Bing has the actual news.”

Neither Google nor Bing (as I understand what the MSFT/NewsCorp deal is to be, anyway) have the news. They point to the news.

This is why the entire Murdoch thing is stupid. Google isn’t republishing, it’s indexing and driving traffic toward his sites.

Personally, I welcome this move by the two. I, like many, spend extra effort to avoid going to Murdoch sites. If Google doesn’t index them, it makes my life a little more convenient and marginalizes both Murdoch sites and Bing.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Google realizes that it has copyright law fair use on its site and keeps indexing sites anyways. I’m not sure Google would take that last step, but if things go nuclear, it might make the most sense. “

It does not make sense. I for one don’t mind people de – indexing Google, that just means I won’t be visiting their site. Let them kill themselves, I don’t mind, why should Google help them against their will?

John Doe says:

Interesting times

Personally I hope he does it. It will be interesting to see how things turn out. Will Murdoch’s sites suffer? Will MS or Google suffer? Maybe this is just the battle we need to show just what works and what doesn’t in cyberspace.

It is kind of like talking about fast horses, you don’t know which one is really fastest until you actually line them up in a race. If this goes through, we will see soon enough who needs who more, Google needs Murdoch or Murdoch needs Google.

I am not a betting man, but I lay odds Google’s horse is faster. ๐Ÿ™‚

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Interesting times

Actually its “May you live in interesting times”

“Personally I hope he does it. It will be interesting to see how things turn out. Will Murdoch’s sites suffer?”

Well …. lets take a trip down memory lane way back to March 2009 when Google/YouTube took down all the Music Video’s in the UK.
The same thing will come of this move by Murdoch, he will realize, he needs Google much more than Google needs him.

Yano (profile) says:

a couple of day back the Microsoft share holders were asking tough questions about MSFT losing ground in the “hip college” market to apple and this attack on the internet openness certainly won’t add to their popularity among college folks besides there will be news on Google so no loss there also Microsoft here is giving the power to content provider which isn’t natural and is going to come back and bite them

Anonymous Coward says:

“They may think that’s smart, but in the long term, such strategies always backfire.”

Unfortunately I disagree, at least the way things are going now. Cablco/Telco (et al) companies make our lives MISERABLE by lobbying the government for a monopoly on the infrastructure and on who can build new infrastructure and by monopolizing the airwaves and hence they can charge us astronomical sums of money for nothing but lies and commercials (which are more lies) and guess what? They make a fortune. They get to make all this money and not do any work because they benefit from the hard work of others. and look how much our intellectual property system harms innovation and how much it harms the economy and how much income inequality it causes. Pharmaceutical corporations are filthy rich and they hardly act ethically and the FDA’s sole purpose seems to be to protect the profit margins of huge pharmaceutical corporations, even at public expense. So sure, becoming rich by exploiting the public may not be “ethical,” but given our broken government if the only thing you care about is yourself then it is “smart.” At least until the people finally stand up for what’s right and force the government to stop serving private interests at public expense. You keep thinking that the Internet is the magic solution to all of our problems but it’s not. People need to stand up for their rights or they will be taken away (and they are being taken away).

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Quarter-finals

“The problem is that this is based on the short-term economic thinking that’s plaguing the people who learned business in the 80’s. Profit now is always better than profit later, and thinking more than a quarter or two ahead is just crazy talk.”

I couldn’t agree more. This happened when, IMO, when a majority of people actually placing orders in the stock market changed from seeing themselves as investors to seeing themselves as gamblers.

It’s actually one of the few places where the government needs to get involved and properly regulate the shit out of the stock market, because if they don’t, I fear the result will be a crash unlike anything we’ve seen to date….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Quarter-finals

It’s actually one of the few places where the government needs to get involved and properly regulate the shit out of the stock market,

I can’t imagine how that would would work. I agree the root cause is the short term profit thinking, and gambling on the stock market is one of the heaviest pressures for that mindset, but how could it be regulated effectively to stop that short term thinking? And what about the other causes of the short term mindset, like golden parachutes and such?

I feel like there are a lot of disconnects between taking the risk and being accountable for it. Some schmuck is buying the failing stock from the investor, and the CEO who decided to crash the company gets out with his assets in tact and then some.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Quarter-finals

“I can’t imagine how that would would work. I agree the root cause is the short term profit thinking, and gambling on the stock market is one of the heaviest pressures for that mindset, but how could it be regulated effectively to stop that short term thinking?”

Well, admittedly I haven’t put a whole lot of thought into this, but regulating how much and when an “investor” can sell stock they’ve bought seems like an easy fix. You buy stock in Apple Inc.? Great, now you have to hold all but 75% of it for a minimum of 6 months. That way you can allow people to still do SOME day trading, but no more instant wealth or death, the kind of things that did so much to encourage corruption and manipulation of the market…

Dave (profile) says:

The worst possible outcome...

Google becomes the search engine for liberals, and Bing becomes the search engine for conservatives.

You know it’s coming. Just sit back and watch the carnage.

And Rupert Murdoch has made TONS of money by making life more difficult for others. Just look at how much Sky Sports charges to show Premier League games in England, and how Sky has pushed most of its competitors out of that market, and you’ll understand.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: The worst possible outcome...

“Google becomes the search engine for liberals, and Bing becomes the search engine for conservatives.”

Dear God, I never even considered that! What a special kind of terrible that would be….

Google search for Obama results in the first link going to http://www.barackobama.com

Bing search for Obama results in the first link going to http://www.societyformuslimsbornoutsidethecountry.aljazeera.com?

Overcast (profile) says:

Re: Re: The worst possible outcome...

“Google becomes the search engine for liberals, and Bing becomes the search engine for conservatives.”

Dear God, I never even considered that! What a special kind of terrible that would be….

Google search for Obama results in the first link going to http://www.barackobama.com

Bing search for Obama results in the first link going to http://www.societyformuslimsbornoutsidethecountry.aljazeera.com?

So which would people use that realize the two parties are just a big smoke and mirrors game for all the elites?

Partisanship is such a *yawn* – it’s clearly just a big media mind-phuck on the people – amazing how some people are so into it still.

duane (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You do realize that Charles Atlas started out as a 98 lb. weakling right?

Time and time again, Murdoch has shown a desire to make the market suit his plans and not the other way around. I applaud/curse him for his success so far, but what he’s railing against right now is the market getting its own back.

As an impartial observer who doesn’t have a vested interest in calling either side the winner, I think even he might not be able to make this deal come out to his liking.

ScaredOfTheMan says:

Re: Re:

What a silly comment. News Corp could use this help, tech dirt understands the business of selling and succeeding on the internet. Lets look at news corps major internet ventures… hmmm that would be the myspace acquisition, and we know how well that went.

If I worked for News corp I would pay attention to this, and maybe just maybe they will regain their former position of success. Otherwise, the future is not bright, they succeeded because they had a monopoly on on news gathering and distribution, that monopoly is gone, finished, kaput, lets see what they do, and revisit this comment in a few years.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

News Corp could use this help, tech dirt understands the business of selling and succeeding on the internet.

I can’t agree. The one thing Techdirt / Mike knows is how to preach to the choir, and how to use a little razzle dazzle to make people think it’s the truth. Reality is that snake oil salesmen, hucksters, and Slapchop Vince all use the same sorts of techniques to appeal to the audience.

Succeeding on the internet? I think that is almost an oxymoron.

Call me Al says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Succeeding on the internet? I think that is almost an oxymoron.”

Wait… what? I think Google, Amazon and a variety of other companies would disagree with you on that one.

Also Mike’s presentation isn’t perfect and does suffer a certain bias at times but through the wonders of comments if you disagree and can prove your point then you can go ahead and do so. Then people who read your comments can follow up on any points, links etc themselves.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Don't outsource your growth Market

What’s your solution? Outsourcing your growth market? Yeah, that makes no sense at all.

The point is that print subscriptions are dwindling for several reasons, but perhaps the the simple reason that a print copy is already 18 hours old when you receive it.

So many people seek to more up-to-date sources for news such as Google, Drudge, and online properties such as CNN, or Twitter.

With these up-to-the-minute sources, how can you begin to expect to compete with an 18-hour old product?

At this point, a better idea would be for newspapers in a given geography to consolidate printing and distribution operations under a separate corporate entity. Outsource it in a way.

This would allow the newspapers to focus on their core competencies of reporting, copyediting, ad sales, subscription services and developing their own online presence.

The online presence is the future. How you decide to derive revenue (be it from online ad sales or subscription model) should be up to the individual paper, and be fluid: Perhaps one month you want to let anyone access the news, and the next, you want to convert freeloaders over so you require a login or online subscription model, The next month, maybe you’re free again. Maybe certain columnists have a loyal following and their articles need a subscription for a month. Play with it. But only when you have solid SEO and analytics in place. They will provide insight into and will be major factors in a successful campaign.

But in order to get to this point, you have to see Google as your marketer, or 2011 version of a street corner newsie.

Printing is the biggest cost in the industry and will continue to decline. It doesn’t make sense to protect it and fair use.

If people see value in what your reporters and columnists do, and can connect with them, (key concept) they will probably become more loyal and pay more than a print subscription.

But we’re probably a few years out before anyone figures out how to do the whole gamut successfully.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“I can’t agree. The one thing Techdirt / Mike knows is how to preach to the choir”

Because the only thing that matters is the rich and the powerful, the poor who get exploited by the rich and the powerful are just the choir.

“and how to use a little razzle dazzle to make people think it’s the truth.”

and what makes YOU the ultimate authority over truth? and techdirt uses FACTS and LOGIC to convince people, it’s the mainstream media that has to censor truth to try to persuade us that their worldview is true.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Big news corps can’t compete in a free market because they offer nothing but overpriced lies and commercials. The only reason they have succeeded is because they (and cableco/telco companies) have succeeded in lobbying the government for a monopoly. The only reason they succeeded is because they have no regards for morality so, unlike others, they won’t allow morality to get in the way of their success. They are willing to act less ethically than everyone else to succeed (ie: lobbying the government for laws that favor them) and that’s what has made them successful. The Internet is changing that but lets hope their unethical lobbying efforts don’t destroy the Internet as well.

The Groove Tiger (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Rupert: Hey! Quit kicking those search results in our faces!
Anonymous Coward: That Google is the worst nuisance on the internets…

Google: Listen here. I’d stop aggregating your news site – only you’re so puny you might dry up and blow away.

Rupert: The big bully! I’ll get even some day.
Mike: Oh don’t let it bother you, little boy!

Rupert: Darn it! I’m sick and tired of being leeched by aggregators! Bill Gates says he can give me a REAL search engine. All right! I’ll gamble. A download and get his FREE Bing!

Rupert: Boy! It didn’t take Gates long to do this for me! What RSS feeds! That bully won’t steal from ME around again!

Rupert: Google! You here again? Here’s the robots.txt I owe you!

Anonymous Coward: Oh, Rupert! You ARE a real man after all!

Call me Al says:

I doubt I will even notice, if I google something I make do with the results that come up. If something is missing then I won’t even know its missing and will happily go to the variety of other places which contain the information I am looking for and which do show up.

For me all Murdoch is doing is working towards is to take his news companies out of my frame of reference.

boomzilla (profile) says:

Newspapers and bad behavior

When a lot of newspapers were a lot less desperate than they are now, owners of dominant publications in two- or multi-paper towns undercut advertising and subscription prices of their competitors to drive them out of business. This smells to me, a former newspaper journalist, a lot like that, except that I don’t see how it can work. People are not going to stop using Google (and switch to Bing? Puh-leeze it’s beyond lame), so what seems more likely is that readership and web hits will dry up even further.

Guys that finds it funny says:

Finding it funny

I guess I don’t have enough insight to form an opinion, but I just thought it was funny that the author felt the need to give advice to RM about what will not make him successful. Good, bad or indifferent, I think RM might know a little more about how to succeed. I’m sure I’ll get flamed for trolling, but I just had to share my chuckle.

Anonymous Coward says:

Have either of these guys looked around themselves?

The days of exclusivity are numbered. Just look at the problems within the existing music distribution model.

People don’t want exclusivity. Authors don’t want to just be featured in one publisher anymore so they have blogs, and eBooks, and such.

Exclusivity is going backwards, and won’t have a warm reception.

DW says:

Murdoch/Gates Hostage-taking

I strongly agree that this scheme Murdoch is exploring with MS is the (rotten) pits. Leave it to grubby-fisted capitalists to screw up the best info-sharing technology the world has ever seen. For money. These guys would sell oxygen if they could find the angle, and we’d have to look at skywriting ads to watch a sunset. We must band together in the solidarity of brother/sisterhood to resist this corruption with perseverance and a steely-eyed view to the future (ie., kick their butts if they try it). The only upside to the deal would probably be more Faux-linked sites failing on the web. Wait, wait…that’s a VERY strong up-side…let me revise my argument:

Go for it, you two greedy punkinheads.

Smart User says:

Smart Users don't care

Who cares? For most of the thing I use Google. For WSJ and others, if I am forced to use Bing, so I will. It’s just another browser window. I’m sure someone will come up with a browser (Mozilla?) where you can type it once and it pops up two windows with search results from both parties.

So who makes money? No one. I rarely click on the paid links anyways ๐Ÿ™‚

Brave New World says:

Nice move Murdoch!

This move will fail on many fronts. First, because of MS’s monopoly, most MS users have learned over the years to associate the Microsoft brand with virus’s, trojans, slowdowns, malware, expensive repairs, etc. etc.

Socond, if Murdoch thinks people are just going to switch thier most favorite search engine for news that “doesn’t show up any longer”, he’s a complete idiot. When I read the google news, I look at the headlines and click on the one’s that I think are interesting, I just don’t consider who’s covering it. Why? see my last paragraph below. If news stories from News Corp suddenly don’t show up on Google News anymore, I won’t notice it, and most ordinary Google News readers won’t either.

Third, seriously, this opens up a HUGE opportunity for those who know how the internet works to get the revenue and recognition that News Corp used to enjoy. Bloggers are going to go freaking crazy with this. Now, anyone on the internet with a blog will get some serious hits covering a story that News Corp is also covering. And don’t tell me only News Corp has the priveledge to report on events happening in OUR world.

And lets face it, big Media has been in control and feeding us crap for soooo long, the advent of the internet has brought to light the often one-sided stories that we’re all fed. You can BS some of the people some of the time, but not all of them all the time. Welcome to the Internet Murdoch. Adapt, or die. People love Google because Google does no Evil. Can Microsoft say the same? I for one am hopefull of never seeing another News Corp. story on the internet again.

Progress and quality journalism shall prevail with this move and another dinasour dies. Good riddance.

SARA MC (user link) says:

Users Go Where The Relevant Results Are!

It would be quite unbelievable if they went through with this. I can’t imagine a big company completely abandoning the quality and quantity of users that Google provides. I can see why MS would want try this approach… seeing as though the SUCK at everything they do! But this is stooping pretty low. I will still use Google for 90% of searching… I guess I will just find my info from other sources haha.

Alan Gerow (profile) says:

Re: Users Go Where The Relevant Results Are!

Some people will switch to Bing because of exclusive content deals. Most will continue using Google and eventually forget about the sites that have opted out. 100% of the people won’t do one or the other, so Google may lose a little bit of market share on certain searches, but the sites selling out are going to lose a lot more in traffic and mindshare. It’s marginal loses and gains for the search engines, but massively stupid for the website.

Alan Gerow (profile) says:

It sounds like Microsoft’s game unit has been talking with their search unit a bit too much. They seem to think since exclusive content works with video game consoles, it’ll work with search engines. Silly Microsoft, tricks are for kids.

And News Corps. is just blowing more smoke threatening to do everything short of spontaneous combust to try to figure out how it can gain any semblance of the upper hand it used to command.

Anonymous Coward says:

“…then you have a situation where you end up in an inevitable stalemate, … — and no one wins.”

The previous statement is completely untrue. Google and its users will win because companies that innovate and provide value always win. In this day and age asking to be removed from Google (either the book scanning project or search results) is like asking to be removed from history! It’s the dumbest move ANYONE could EVER make!

Hephaestus (profile) says:

.....

“And News Corps. is just blowing more smoke threatening to do everything short of spontaneous combust to try to figure out how it can gain any semblance of the upper hand it used to command”

No its more like a kid throwing a tantrum because he doesnt know what else to do.

Wahhh Wahhhh … pay attention to me ….

Its weird Rupert Murdoch seems to want to control the internet. To change it to conform to his vision of how it should work, to be a distribution mechanism for his content. That seems to be what all these self important media types are trying to do. It made me just have one of those simple thoughts/visions. The internet is nothing more than a communications medium. Placing rules on what can and can’t be communicated will never work. People will adapt and new applications will be developed to circumvent those rules. rinse lather repeat …

Ragaboo (user link) says:

I propose a boycott. Oh, wait...

Lol, I’d propose a boycott on sites that de-list themselves from Google (indicating that they don’t understand the Internet at all and are destined to fail), but … well, a boycott is pretty much automatic. I’ve never used Bing in my life, and I don’t really care to start. Boycotting them will be as simple as continuing my life normally …

dwind (profile) says:

All part of the master plan

Here’s the master plan:
When Rupert gives all his traffic to Bing it will drive google out of business. now the only search engine is bing and their biggest client is news corp. This will allow both to setup pay walls. You wanna search, you pay. You wanna read the news, you pay.
What can go wrong with this plan?

MediaLibMan (profile) says:

You're missing the point..

I think you are all missing the point. Rupert’s proper contention is that folks who are driven to News Corps. properties from Google (and all non economic-niche external sources really) are simply not worth the money. They typically do not stay on the site for very long (maybe an article), they are not the type that pay for subscriptions, and they are likely more diverse then the narrow demographics advertisers seek (think Fox News). Rupert does not care if “information wants to be free” or about CPM’s. In fact, he would just assume the “parasites” went away.

He would rather run a lean profitable operation (with less reporters) – digital or print – where a few really loyal folks pay for the content, and advertisers know essentially who they are marketing to. Marketers are willing to pay a premium for the Fox News crowd, or hell even the very different Fox broadcast channel crowd, just as long as they are loyal (think NASCAR). Rupert views himself as a prophet that will lead the news industry into salvation, or at least off life-support.

Now, I personally do not think it is a good strategy long-term. For starters, while niche information like WSJ works because people use the info. to make money, I am not certain the same will hold true for general news. I also don’t know that the demographics that work in the above instances (e.g., white, middle-class, conservative; older for Fox News and young-liberal for Fox channel) translate to the online environment.

I think Rupert would be better served by providing his information for free, and innovating with a series of value-added services, such as live-discussions with NASCAR champ, Jimmy Johnson or widgets to search for hard-to-get-to public information that bring better context to stories. Then again, Mr. Murdoch has never been about facts, so even if he stuck to some exclusive entertainment content he might be able to get the following. Speaking of entertainment (sit-com really), I wonder if Glenn Beck would support a forum on the New York Post?

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