At the World Newspaper Congress at Hyderabad this week Dow Jones CEO Les Hinton ?took on Google and used some strong language to stir things up. He called Google a digtial vampire and a parasite. He goes on to further bash the internet content Kleptomaniacs whose business model depends on purloining the expensive journalism of mainstream media (read more about what he said over here).
The issue that i want to highlight is what gives the Newspaper industry so much courage to take on Google (Rupert Murdoch: “I think we will remove our websites from Google’s search index”). Is it foolhardy or is it based on some statistics. So here is the rub. With the rise in social media the landscape has changed dramatically. In the same conference Associate editor of Daily Mirror, Matt Kelly shared why his company is relying less and less on Google SEO. According to Matt Kelly the traffic from Google Search is now much lower than what they are getting from referrals, bookmarks and Social Media platform like Twitter and Facebook.
To quote Matt Kelly
“Crucially, traffic from search engines is ridiculously low for a newspaper website. Around 15 percent for MirrorFootball and less than 10 for 3am. That means the vast majority of traffic has either come from bookmarks, or a referral from an informed source. We get a lot of traffic to both sites from social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Not recommendations from a search engine, but from a friend. That’s how to grow a meaningful audience.”
There is a big shift that is happening from consumer consumption point. There are two distinct consumer habits that is emerging:
- More consumers are getting breaking news from Twitter [infact, Indians use Twitter as a News Service.]
- More consumer are reading content and watching video on Facebook.
These two phenomenon is like the gift from heaven for the Newspaper industry. They can now look at sources other than Google for reaching out to customers. With Facebook at 350 mn users and Twitter at more than 55 mn users the balance of power will shift. Now here is the bump in the road that is going to happen. As consumers who share the content through Twitter or Facebook can also write comments or rate the piece of the content the Newspaper industry will find it-self open to public scrutiny and public criticism. What you will see going forward is this very lively interaction between consumers (who are passionate enough about the content to share it on Twitter and Facebook) and the Newspaper journalists.
The journalists will now have to deal directly with it’s consumer. This can be both a boon as well as a nightmare. I sincerly hope the newspaper industry truly understands what is coming their way and are fully prepared for it.