Rupert Murdoch Admits Defeat: Now Wants London Times To Appear In Search Results
from the nobody-predicted-that dept
Remember back in 2009, when Techdirt reported that Rupert Murdoch hated Google so much he had decided to block the search engine from indexing his titles, even though this would inevitably cut down their visibility and online traffic? He obviously thought that he would put this upstart technology in its place, showing that mighty media moguls don't need this Internet thing in order to flourish just like they did 50 years ago. According to this story in paidContent, it seems that strategy hasn't worked out too well:
In the next few weeks, paidContent understands The Times' website will begin showing articles' first two sentences to search engines, in a marketing exercise designed to attract new subscribers.
This shows that Murdoch has finally realized that being left out of Google is the online equivalent of not being listed in telephone directories in earlier times. It also suggests that attempts to gain subscribers for the online edition in other ways are not going so swimmingly, which must raise questions over the long-term viability of the paywalled approach for this title.
The limited free preview does not alter News International's belief that it should continue charging for The Times (visitors will be invited to subscribe to read full articles). But it does suggest that, having signed up 130,751 digital subscribers since mid-2010, the publisher is having to look in new places to maintain customer acquisition momentum.
Murdoch's move comes at an interesting time for the newspaper industry in Germany. As we discussed recently, a law currently being considered there would require snippets to be licensed and paid for on the basis that search engines are gaining a benefit from even these short extracts. By allowing his title to be indexed and short excerpts to be displayed for free, Murdoch is essentially admitting that the marketing value of snippets to him outweighs any nominal loss due to Google's supposed free-riding -- as Techdirt suggested -- thus undermining the supposed justification for the German proposal.