News Corp’s Google News Training

Bill Tancer has some interesting stats on the Hitwise blog about the potential impact on News Corp’s traffic we may see if Rupert Murdoch really does pull their sites out of Google’s search engines. One nugget I found particularly interesting is this morsel about WSJ.com’s higher than average Google News dependence:

The potential loss of Google News traffic is potentially more serious. As reported here, over the three years, WSJ.com’s traffic from Google News has grown from 2% to over 11%. As we see in the table below, the Journal is receiving more than double the traffic from Google News than newspaper sites overall (a custom category including national and regional papers).

Why does the WSJ.com receive a larger than average percentage of their site’s traffic from Google News? Probably because of the “leaky wall” model they’ve created for their site. As I understand it, visitors from search engines are able to read the first entire article they reach through search, but after that they’re forced to register and pay up if they’d like to go deeper. The rationale is likely that people need a taste for the quality of reporting before they’ll be willing to whip out the plastic.

The WSJ.com’s policies seem to have trained consumers to go to Google News to access WSJ.com stories. For example, a WSJ story may be particularly newsworthy and receive a boatload of chatter on Twitter. People interested in reading that story have figured out that they can go to Google News to easily find the one story they’re interested in reading.

Essentially, the WSJ has built a wall between itself and the site’s readers called Google News. And now their upset with Google for benefiting from the situation the WSJ brought upon themselves. A little introspection may help at a time like this.

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