Monetizing Google News

Google News, from the time of its launch in 2002 until January, 2006, carried a “Beta” label, meaning (presumably) that it was in a development stage. When “Beta” was finally dropped, with no other apparent changes to the site. To this day, Google News carries no ads, but it has about 20 fully-dedicated employees at the Googleplex.

Now, Google has plenty of revenue and can easily afford the non-revenue-producing employees in that unit, but you do have to ask, how does Google monetize Google News?

The conventional wisdom has been that Google doesn’t want to put ads directly on Google News pages, because the content-providing news organizations would rebel. They like the fact that Google indexes their stories and drives traffic to them, but they might object if Google put AdWords on the site. And in fact, many of those news organizations carry Google AdWords on their own sites, so Google benefits by driving traffic to them (and that feeling is mutual, given the way AdWords revenue is split between Google and the carrying sites).

Moreover, Google displays News results on its Web Search pages, and depending on the search term, AdWords do appear there. For example, try doing a Google Web search on “stock market,” and you’ll see Google News results, AdWords, Google BlogSearch and GoogleBooks results all on the first search results page (at least, for me, right now), yielding multiple ways for Google to monetize that particular search. (Other searches might include also Google Shopping results, still in Beta after all these years, where Google makes money via Google Checkout, the availability of which is prominently indicated where appropriate).

All of which is preamble to Google’s newly announced News Archive Search. In reality, this feature has been around for a couple of years as well, so it’s a little puzzling why Google made a fuss about announcing it this month.

What seems to be new is that now, Google will be cooperating with newspapers in scanning their microfilm archives, and sharing AdWords revenue with them when served in conjunction with search results from their sites.

One editor, Andrew Smith of the Dallas Morning News, opines that “it’s nice to know that the company that’s putting us newspapers out of business will at least preserve our memory.”
This kind of comment is perhaps to be expected from the legacy media, but the bottom line is that Google has figured out yet another way to monetize content it didn’t create and doesn’t own.

It’s high time for the legacy media types to figure out how to do the same thing with content they did create and do own.