Bing trying to get exclusive on Fox…Smart

Ok,  I am getting bored talking about fox and google.  But as things pop up, like news in the media saying that MicroSoft is trying to entice Fox to “de-list” from Google, I cant pass up posting on it. Particularly when it makes so much sense

Here is why Bing paying Fox to De-list from Google can be a significant first step and can work:

First, Bing doesn’t  need to get the most popular sites to join fox in de-listing. They need the most popular searches in the categories they want to impact.

Bing just has to corner the market on specific categories. If they are  able to corner some little corners, say sites about auto news, by paying bloggers and news sites in this category to go exclusive with Bing, they can trumpet it loud and far that if you want information about a new car, you have to go to Bing because “they dont take Google”. (did Visa’s They Dont Take Amex ad campaign work ?”)

Or they can target to pay sites about mesothelioma and other diseases that ambulance chasers covet and pay huge dollars per click through, or other high paying PPC searches. The advertisers for these categories go where they can get the most clicks. It wont change marketshare, but it could change how the battle between Googe and Bing is fought. If they can win enough categories, all of the sudden they have some bragging rights that set a platform for people to question googles positioning.

Then consider MicroSofts first move on twitter and their investment in Facebook as an indicator they  could be looking to stake out a position in the value of realtime information.

Which makes  the public positions of AP and Reuters and other top news sites all the more interesting. One thing they all have in common ? They dont like the way google has treated them and they all need  money.  To think they wont jump aboard and grab a cash offer from MicroSoft that precludes Google is crazy. For the right amount of money you can get them to shut out Google and restrict downstream access of their content to Google faster than they can say “Google Who?” Thats how bad they need the money AND dislike Google (this isnt just about news, Google Scholar is going after  Reuter’s Westlaw as an example). Just as critical, I dont think it takes a relatively large amount to get them onboard.  Given the volume of news these two companies create, impacting the positioning of Google is not as far fetched as some may like to think.

Many, like Henry Blodgett on Silicon Insider correctly make the point that news from de-listed sites will eventually find its way on to other sites and into the Google Index. But  after how long ?

If Reuters and AP de-list, it will be a lot longer than you think. If you havent noticed the number of reporters generating original reporting is falling like a rock.  Much of the news you think is original content is reposted from Reuters and AP.  If Google doesnt have access to their output, they will have to wait for someone to actually re-write the story, probably after reading it on an AP or Reuters customer site (its called  plagiarism to some, fair use to others) and post it. Without question there will be  a lag time. Which may be all that MicroSing needs.  You can get ALL the news you need on Bing NOW, or you can wait, and wait, and wait for it on Google.

Getting news first has been a position of value that has worked for a long, long  time. No reason to think it might not work again here.

And finally, Google already has a problem in that they do a horrible job of blocking spam in their date sorted results. Removing valid results is going to make their date sorted results look even worse.

De-List a few key sites. Win a few categories. Offer the news first. Make the people you pay to de-list also make Bing their default on site search engine.  You just never know. Stranger things have happened. Like we say in sports. Thats why we play the games

So bing just might have a shot

36 thoughts on “Bing trying to get exclusive on Fox…Smart

  1. could not give full issue. But I know 2010 will be very colorful. Google and the outcome of the war Bing wonder. At the end of this war a lot of users will be using extreme function.

    http://www.normpompa.com.tr

    Comment by ekartall -

  2. Why not convince ($$$) Mozilla and the other Browsers to use BING as the DEFAULT search engine?

    Sounds simple enough..($$$)

    Comment by mrproductlaunch -

  3. While Mark’s recommended approach is certainly one way for Msft to gain share, it seems like a very very expensive one.

    I’m not sure how the Fox deal is structured, but I imagine it includes both a flat fee and a variable component. Fox knows how much traffic Google directs and how much Msft directs to them. Fox also knows the trends from each search engine and can thus estimate future cumulative traffic from the two SE’s. If Msft pays a a variable cost, it will likely be some metric per cum traffic lost.

    One way Msft can mitigate these variable costs is if they advertise like crazy that they own Fox (or AP, Reuters, etc.). But this of course will cost a ton. I personally didn’t even know about Msft position for shopping (as commented by another reader) – it won’t work if the consumer isn’t even aware!

    You might say China is a good example of where there is segmented searching. By segmented I mean for some searches, users prefer Google and for others users prefer Baidu (such as Music). But these SE’s are able to occupy their niches because of the way they started out and evolved together as the market grew, not because they were able to carve it out later. It would just be too costly!

    Another way Msft can mitigate the costs (likely the flat fee) would be if they provided preferential treatment for Fox (or AP, Reuters, etc.) on search results. Of course, this would completely kill the integrity of the search. Another idea may be to put Fox, etc. in the advertise section, free of charge, at the expense of losing a different advertiser, of course.

    Comment by cameronlevy -

  4. Pingback: » On the possible Murdoch/Microsoft deal and other search engine news (Nov 29)

  5. Mark, agree that Murdoch is taking bold and positive action. As you said to @dannysullivan on his post here: http://bit.ly/5XguLB “if you can change the search game the rewards could be far greater than the value of the incremental revenue you suggest (by adopting better search optimization tactics)”

    But I disagree that “for a small business, its not a valid discussion. For a multibillion dollar business , it is.”

    NOONE – small or large – is profiting from selling performance based (click thru) advertising, because there are an almost infinite number of variables, OUT OF YOUR CONTROL, which must line up perfectly.

    Google is profiting because they have created a way to establish the market value for words. Murdoch is saying that if the words have a market value, then there is a related value for the content/search results for those words. When Murdoch makes a syndication licensing fee deal with Google, then all content has a market value.

    Both big and small business would benefit by establishing a market value for content.

    For Search Optimizers, like Danny, if search results determined how much a content creator is paid in syndication licensing fees, the ROI on his tactics go up exponentially.

    If content creators – large or small – were paid a syndication licensing fee every time content appears in search results in Google, how much faster would credits appear then waiting for visitors to, an advertiser to place an ad, and a viewer to click on it?

    Will “do no evil” Google deny that everyone’s content has value? Their investors may try that. But, the one thing “independent” content creators have proven is that there are needs that Mass media does not fill.

    Murdoch’s content is already available on over-the-air radio and television for free or other sources people have paid for already, like cable or newspapers. It is limited to “topline” coverage because of the by life cycle of news and the scarcity of time. (Which is why morning newspapers and magazines survived the introduction of radio and tv)

    Search requests for “topline” content are different from search requests for deeper analysis or opinions that fit an individual’s bias, raising the value of non-mass media content to search engines. Additionally, when mass media listens to consumers to understand what they will pay for, they will find out that they want all the information, regardless of bias, to be organized in one place so they don’t have to go look for it. Then, mass media will also value (read:pay) to curate links to deeper analyses or the range of opinions around a topic.

    Small independents who have worked hard tell a story from an original perspective and build trust will enjoy a rising tide in the market value of content.

    The only “independents” who should worry are those who add nothing original to mass media content, except to “diss” it or predict its annihilation.

    Katherine Warman Kern
    @comradity

    Comment by comradity -

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  8. This is going to lead to an all out bidding war for media companies. If I controlled MSFT, GOOG I’d just become major shareholder of Gannett or News Corp. Afterall, isn’t that what Murdoch wants. He’s pitting MSFT against GOOG to force them to purchase or merge with media conglomerates for their/his future sake.

    Comment by darryl3 -

  9. The additional traffic provided by Google is not so valuable to a site the size of a Fox News / WSJ, according to Ad Age: http://bit.ly/514Zop

    Comment by isired -

  10. Mark,

    Great thoughts regarding the Bing, Google battle. In your opinion is the actions taken by Bing at all driven by the fact that Microsoft has been the “giant target” by so many over the years that now they finally get the opportunity to take on a giant themselves? Obviously, business wise it makes sense to challenge Google, especially since Microsoft has the capital to be able to do so, but there is a large part of me that says Microsoft wants to know what it’s like to be on the “attack” rather than the defense! Am I a huge Microsoft fan, no, but I am also not a huge Google fan either, I appreciate the fact that Microsoft is going to push the envelope and compete with Google. Taking websites over a period of time will certainly drive users to Bing, people said Nike signing Michael Jordan and paying him what they paid him was a risk that wasn’t worth taking. Nike used Jordan to attract every major sports athlete across the board. So I think if Bing gets a few “major” websites early, their ability to manage and market those accounts are going to attract more and more. I would venture to guess the first few websites that de-list from Google and go to Bing are going to be heavily compensated…money drives change!

    Comment by heisman -

  11. Hey Mark,

    I can’t imagine de-indexing news from Google is good for anyone other than competing search engines.

    The film your company 2929 produced, “The Road” with Viggo Mortensen, is getting rave reviews. I first heard this from an RSS feed and then used Google to find other reviews to see if it was unanimous.

    The infinitely lazy end user won’t hassle with changing their search habits.

    And de-indexers are going to suffer.

    Do you really want to make it harder for users to find reviews of your hot new film?

    On a side note:

    You seem to delight in tweaking the ears of the Google boys, Larry and Sergey, for some reason. Maybe it’s a Billionaire Boys Club thing.

    I just don’t get it.

    Comment by sudojudo -

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  14. I have always respected you and enjoy reading what you write. However it always goes right over my head vooooom I do enjoy looking at you though. lol

    Comment by pinkyrinky -

  15. bad post. Neither would be able to purchase AP. Only 15% stock ownership allowed for Reuters.

    Comment by darryl3 -

  16. Microsoft or Google would be better off purchasing AP or Reuters outright.

    Comment by darryl3 -

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  18. If this type of deal does start to gain traction, it will lead to fracturing of search results. Won’t that then lead to the (re-)rise of meta-search engines like Dogpile?

    Comment by tomcoinnovative -

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  20. This game has already been played once, and Microsoft lost. Microsoft agreed to some sort of moronic “digital music” tax with the RIAA for use of the Zune. The idea was similar – Microsoft throwing cash at a problem, and the content providers attempt at a money grab to make another player (Apple, with iTunes in this case), play “honest”.

    It didn’t work. It won’t work now, either.

    The reason has nothing to do with free. The reason is the competitive product (Zune) sucked. that’s not a personal opinion (although I do think it sucked), that’s the market speaking. “iPod” is to MP3 players what “Google” is to searches. It’s just what people use, and what they like. Bing is not going to change that (and yes, I do happen to think that Bing sucks).

    Comment by bojennett -

  21. What would this do to both engines’ public images? Google is known for its algorithms which base search results on popularity and relevance, while MS will be known for serving those who pay up.

    In my mind, this would make MS look like the corporate site with corporate news. Meanwhile, Google would be where I go for non-corporate, less filtered information — blogs, message forums, etc. Also, Google is the default search bar in Web browsers and MOST computer users don’t change many settings.

    People don’t go to Google in order to see FOX News or AP, people see FOX News and AP BECAUSE they HAPPENED to go to Google. If they demanded AP news only, they would have gone directly to the AP’s site.

    Comment by Daniel Daugherty -

  22. It would be an incredibly shortsighted action by Microsoft and even though they have a history of shortsightedness, I don’t believe they are this stupid. Do they really want to get into an all-out bidding war with Google? The internet is too big to pay everyone of significance to index. I don’t think Google would even consider doing it.

    The simple fact is that it’s not possible to delist your website from any search engines. Robots.txt is NOT A LAW. If I owned a search engine, I would just come out and say that anyone who asks to be paid to be indexed A) the answer is no and B) we’re no longer honoring your robots.txt. We’ll still honor it for everyone else, of course.

    Comment by mateo2 -

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  24. BBC News and the Guardian seem to cover the news comprehensively. FOX or NEWS International aren’t exactly known for their fair and unbiased reporting as Murdoch owned The Sun attacking the Prime Minister in the UK now is proving.

    Great provocative post though. I’ve realised now how political its going to get.

    Comment by Charles Frith -

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  26. “They tried, it had marginal success. So what ? So nothing else will work ? Stop trying ? MicroSoft’s history is about starting last and grinding it out. Sometimes it works, others not. But it works enough for them to keep on trying”

    That’s Microsoft’s history in software. Search isn’t software. Search is media. This isn’t Windows. This isn’t Xbox. The worst thing Microsoft can do is make that mistake (search for “Tough Love For Microsoft Search” and you’ll find a long article where I detail this more.

    No, of course don’t give up. I want them fighting Google. I want more balance. But they simple are NOT going to have a killer deal that makes a dramatic change. A Murdoch “exclusive” would, at best, just be yet another incremental change — and one that potentially, a Google – New York Times “exclusive” could negate — if either exclusive really did much.

    from MC> actually news organizations taking sides would be the best thing ever for MS. it would require people to pay attention to news sources and search indexes. Which only hurts the market leader

    Cashback was a very dramatic attempt by Microsoft to corner one of the most important areas in search they are after with cold hard cash. I think that the lack of a major success there should serve as an important reality check to anyone who predicts some type of Google killer feature.

    From MC> actually, they had success. Just not much. They gained some market share, and im guessing the cost was relatively low vs the gain. It just wasnt a material amount of share.

    “You dont pay the lawyers. You pay the few actual for profit content sites. In this space there are just a few sites that have made the investment to create legit content.”

    My experience has been that the legit content sites are back by lawyers. Remember also that Microsoft can ask those sites to block Google, but it can’t also promise to rank them well. Do that, rank them in unpaid results in relation to a financial deal, and you either have to disclose or get in hot water with the FTC.

    From MC>no question they cant promise ranking, but given that they can publish their ranking criteria if they choose to rather than keep it black box like Google. They also can provide above the line placement ads as an incentive as well. i dont see this as a problem.

    “I didnt say it gave MS an advantage, I said it could be part of a play into realtime. An area that google is horrible at. Their blog search is incomplete and full of spam. THeir twitter results are buried and when you set option to reflect recency, you get flooded with spam. ITs an area MS can differentiate with if they continue to do it better than Google”

    Mark, Google kicks Microsoft’s butt when it comes to indexing twitter resutls. Go search for “apparently an ultralight has gone down in newport beach” which I tweeted a few hours ago. In Google. Not in Bing.

    From MC> Since when do people search for specific tweet strings ? Google is faster. And no question Bing needs to improve, It will be interesting to see how quickly Bing can speed up and whether Google Social becomes a primary results destination or is a 2nd class citizen like blog search is. Right now Social is limited to your google/twitter/fb contacts, which i think is a deal killer. Its the people I dont know that I want to be able search. And I still want to know what the NYTimes is saying in their tweets if i dont follow them

    Im even happier that Icerocket.com (which is where I do all my tweet searching) had it as quickly as Google. You should also try icerocket.com’s common follower feature (shameless plug)

    Seriously, you’re upset with Google’s blog search, when Microsoft doesn’t even offer it. No experience doing it, just pull back from it, trust me — they’ll face the same spam that’s out there.

    From MC> Im spoiled by Icerocket. I dont use Google for blog search. But trust me, MS will do Blogsearch. But your point is well taken. MS has a long way to go for both. But my point in the original post wasnt that they were the best. Icerocket.com is :). But that Google isnt very good, even with Social and it appears to me that MS is going to make a push in this area. Which i think is a good idea. I agree with you that they are not anywhere there yet, but I do think Google is vulnerable in this area.

    “And your point is that MS shouldnt take advantage of this ? They want more money, MS can pay them more money, and get exclusivity down through their members base for the right price. You dont think that will impact Google ? For example, every sports site uses AP summaries after games. Gone. There are so few post game summaries written that literally Google might be without summaries of games for 12 or more hours, if they get them at all. Think MS could use that to their advantage ?”

    No, I think Google can easily find alternative sources for information it finds is absolutely essential. Remember, Google’s not a sport site. It’s not trying to show you a sports summary. It’s trying to point you to someone who has one. If the AP won’t provide them one, someone else will. Seriously, the AP is the only place with information about your own team? Hell, Mark, Google will just point people at you :)

    From MC> Its not 2006 anymore. Coverage of teams is miniscule. Actually, I have posted about the lack of non AP coverage of teams/games. If the AP doesnt post them in Google, there will be a huge delay and for some teams the coverage will be non existent. Its a HUGE Problem for sports teams. Its why we had to hire our own people to report on our games. Our local newspapers decided to share coverage rather than originate their own and every other media outlet has cut back as well. And for the right price, Im happy to block indexing of Mavs.com. I know exactly what my revenue is from outside references vs organic. Its not a big number. So I will come cheap. And if i can be bought, so can many, many others. Plus, I think Mavs fans would figure out that if they cant get to us via google, they can come to Mavs.com and bookmark us. Hopefully Ballmer will drop me a line :)

    “thats great. But TR is a public company. Money talks. And August was before Google Scholar started its head on competition with Westlaw. If he passes up a big payday, he will be looking for a new opportunity”

    With the assumption that the only payday is a couple of million in licensing fees? Hey, Reuters is a wire service. Google already licenses from several services. They can give Reuters the existing AP money and the traffic the AP migh get, and Reuters might have a better idea how to monetize that traffic than the AP.

    From MC> I must have missed those ads on Reuters.com :). Im not an expert on their business, but I think they sell their wire service to papers and others who believe they compete with Google. So the biggest part of their wire service customer base may see this MS move as a positive. That said, Yes Google can pay them the AP money they save, but doesnt that start Google down the exact same slippery slope that you are saying MS shouldnt go down?

    It’s like you’re saying that the only way a TV show can make money is if people pay to watch it. Maybe that’s true for one show, but it’s not true for all of them.

    “What do you think traffic is worth these days…”

    Don’t know. I’m not a news publisher. But tell you what. Give me the traffic the WSJ or the NYT gets in a day, I’ll find a way to monetize the hell out of it.

    C’mon, Mark — why on earth is the assumption that these sites somehow can’t make any money off that traffic. Or that their online sites somehow are loss leaders when they attract eyeballs but on TV, that’s all fine?

    From MC> You might have missed the HUGE advertising slump that everyone is going through.:) Google has done a great job of retaining advertisers because search advertising does for the most part work. Which of course is one of the key reasons Microsoft is willing to invest so heavily and take chances with Bing.
    Beyond search, its mostly display and video ads. Both of which are bottomless pits of inventory. . Which means that CPMs fall and the value of traffic falls as well. Sites cant sell the inventory they have. So new traffic is difficult to monetize. Plus traffic from outside sites has less value than organic. If you can find the magic potion to enable every one to monetize 100pct of their traffic, you would put all ad networks out of business and make a lot of site owners very, very happy.
    TV on the other hand has limits on the number of ads they can put in a show. It may not seem like it, but shows are actually reducing the number of ads per hour. Plus there is value to reaching an audience of size in a short amount of time. 1mm viewers in 60 seconds usually has more value than 1mm uniques accumulated over some period of time.

    Could it have anything to do with the fact that the online margins are a lot smaller even though the online audience might be worth much more. And are the right people being held to the fire offline?

    “Is today’s repeat news consumer too stupid to bookmark The Wall St Journal or the NYTimes ?”

    Yes. No. Today’s repeat news consumer may simply not want to read the NYT or the WSJ each day. They want a selection of stories from multiple publishers. So find a way to best monetize the various different audiences you receive.

    From MC> I think you are right about generic news consumers. But not more educated readers. Believe it or not more educated readers go directly to newspaper sites. Plus, thats in the current world. If Bing disrupts todays scenario, the NYT, WSJ, etc stand to gain more by making viewers make a choice.

    “The only news that is really vanilla and stays with Google are the news service reports.”

    No. Wrong. Unless you think every story solely stays on a news site, it will always flow to sources outside of news sites eventually. You can’t plug it all.

    From MC> actually i think you can. I think there are far fewer sources of original news than you think. No question there are TONS of spam aggregation sites that fill up an index, and even a few decent non spam aggregation sites, but its not going to be harder for originators of content to recognize where their stories are across the web and notify them if they are violating their copyrights. I think sites like Drudge and Techmeme that take headlines will be fine. But others that scrape for summaries wlll have real issues.

    “So what does google now have ? They still cant index the end news source. They can index drudge, but not the foxnews.com story it points to. Google has to hope drudge writes the perfect headline.”

    No. Google taps into link analysis and more. It’s not content specific. And again, you assume that there are no others out there writing good summaries beyond a headline of a news event. Or that all news publishers buy into the block Google idea.

    “Why wouldnt the sites MS pays block those aggregators ? . Why would they need them ? That traffic aint worth crap.”

    Well, you link to stories. You aggregate. You worried about being sued for doing that? They coming after you?

    From MC> If a site says dont link and blocks my links, Im fine with that. Its their call. They dont need my traffic. I can reference them by name and leave it at that. And if aggregators have to manually write summaries for stories, thats a dream come true for newspapers. It means those sites have to invest in real live people to read the news stories out there, decide which need to be summarized and then write the summaries. Thats expensive. Which means 99pct of those who try to be in that business will go out of business. No matter how much traffic Google sends them. Which in turn changes the news business. Which is what every newspaper would want and would give them another reason to support MS in this effort

    “And if the aggregators have to manually create summaries and links because they cant scrape the news sites, 30mins to Google is going to seem awful fast.”

    You can aggregate without ever touching a source web site. Just look at links. Like links shared on Twitter, even :)

    “Where ? Its buried right now. The twitter searches google does right now are worthless to google users”

    Search for “What Is Real Time Search? Definitions & Players,” as you are mistaking Google Social Search with how Twitter is currently in Google. Also search for “Google Social Search Is Coming & More On Google-Twitter.” I don’t want to drop links to these (but you can add them).

    I think you’ll find they clarify the situation with Twitter on Google now and what may come. You have a lot of confusion there, I’d say.

    From MC> I dont think so. As I mentioned above, Social search is too limiting. Time will tell if they segregate twitter/blogs/updates. I think Bing wants to beat them to the punch. THey havent yet. THey probably just need to use Icerocket too :)

    “you are dead wrong here. True multiple news outlets may cover the same story, but if you havent noticed, the number of news outlets covering stories outside their core /geographic area is dropping as fast as the number of reporters that work for them.”

    Sure. I know this well. I used to be a local reporter. Do a search for “wtf happened to the la times” and see my daggle.com post. Murdoch’s threats don’t help here. No money from Google is going to flow to those local pubs. Microsoft’s not going to somehow buy them out.

    From MC> “Try to find your tweet that links to this post”

    Sure:
    site:twitter.com/dannysullivan mcuban
    From mc> got me on that one. But i wasnt suggesting you do site specific :)

    Search for that. There it is. Then go back, read my earlier article on real time search, and you’ll understand how to filter Twitter on Google. And you’ll understand how much better that will be when they rollout the expected dedicated tools.

    or do:

    dannysullivan mcuban

    There is is. Number one.

    bing’s dedicated tool has it. Do that there, dannysullivan mcuban, you’ll find it number four right now. Because they rank by recency, so it gets a bit buried.

    “I love your posts and retorts to mine. Where I think we have a major disconnect is on 2 fronts. first is the value of traffic. Not all traffic is equal and not all traffic is monetizable. A check from MS is the ultimate monetization, without the risk associated with trying to sell ads around your traffic.”

    Don’t disagree at all. Not all traffic is the same. Some isn’t monetizable. We disagree on how much news content is worth to Bing. I don’t think it’s as much as some news publishers may think. I doubt it’s a cureall for their huge losses. But that’s part of the problem. No one’s putting numbers out.

    From MC> I agree that its DEFINITELY not a a cure all. Not even close. But thats not what i think they are trying to do. What they are trying to do is create cracks in the Google armor One at a time. Just one little crack in the windshield and then see if they can grow it and add more. Thats what this is all about.

    “Their downside is that they try it. it fails. they go back to the way things were and Google smirks all the way to the bank. I think its a risk worth taking”

    I don’t think things are set in stone. It’s kind of exciting seeing the push on Google, in some ways. But the risk isn’t go back to the way things were. The risk is that you lose a lot of traffic you’ve actually spent several years trying to build, and when you change your mind, it takes you a couple of more years to get your business model swinging back around.

    From MC>. Dont see that at all. I think that because Google sticks to their indexing black box, you can get back what you lose quickly

    There’s a far better middle ground out there that Murdoch’s not even trying. And that’s because he’s simply gambling he’ll get a licensing deal like the AP got. Which might pay him some millions, but probably not hundreds of millions. And both sides can then grumble they’ve won, but the fundamental problems the news publishers face won’t be solved.

    And enjoy the discussion, too :)

    Comment by Danny Sullivan -

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  28. Given this as a precedent, assuming it goes through, why wouldn’t other major news sources such as CNN or ESPN demand that Microsoft/Bing pay them for the right to index their content, even while remaining in Google’s index (no exclusivity)? Turn this scenario on its head, in effect. If MS didn’t pay up, they just robots.txt Bing away and go on about their business until MS opened their wallet at some later date.

    Doing that to Google, given GOOG’s search share and % of traffic to those sites is arguably risky. But Bing, with ~10% share, isn’t in a position to argue. They’re desperate for search share *and* would be demonstrating that they are willing to pay for it in a big way *and* those news sites wouldn’t suffer much traffic loss with Bing gone. Win all around for the news sites, and huge problem for Microsoft.

    Comment by kevinbriody -

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  30. Oh, Mark. Ouch. You think people use Google to search for content from specific places?

    No. People use Google because it gives the most relevant results (and name recognition, and all of that other stuff). Removing News Corp content from google would be like Proctor and Gamble pulling out of Walmart. They are Walmart customers, not P&G customers. The customers will not follow the brand to another store.

    If this goes down, Microsoft will waste a bunch of money, damage their own brand (“they’re paying people to degrade my Google experience”), and link themselves to Murdoch, who is more of a personality than company. News Corp will lose a ton of readers overnight and will have fewer new readers going forward as people find similar content from other sources on Google.

    The best possible thing Google could do right now: announce that they’re going to save Microsoft some money and make Murdoch happy by unilaterally removing all News Corp properties from the entire Google index. It defangs Microsoft and cuts traffic to News Corp by 25% overnight. Microsoft saves money, News Corp has fewer viewers (which they claim to want), and Google gets to be done with this asinine little drama. Everyone’s happy (except News Corp shareholders).

    Comment by Brooks Talley -

  31. Mark,

    Here’s a backup to what Danny’s provided. I happen to have a mesothelioma law firm client. Other than the fact that you’ve labeled them ambulance chasers (which is a whole different issue), here’s the reality.

    When Bing first came on the scene, we moved 20% of their PPC spend to Bing, away from Google. After a month of seeing some respectable click throughs and conversions, we increased that to a dollar for dollar match of their Google spend. We’ve now run that same volume since. But we’re going to kill that this week.

    Why? – we never even hit HALF the monthly spend. And the increase that we DID get – much lower than the quality conversions from Google.

    That’s real world stuff. Okay – so maybe, over a VERY extended timeframe, Microsoft might find a way to change that. But how long would that take? I’d venture to say too long to matter. By then, Google will have responded in their own way.

    Honestly,with clients in several industries, with annual spends in the six figure column, we saw a similar issue with comparing Yahoo to Google. Sure, some get decent quality results, but many don’t. Why? Because of the user base.

    The vast majority of Bing users come from people who use the default web browser on their computers.

    I just don’t see how Microsoft could ultimately overcome the plethora of real world facts they’re up against. Not in a significant enough way.

    Just my perspective.

    Comment by alanbleiweiss -

  32. I hope someone does this so we can see it I’m practice. Personally, I’m having a hard time imaging a world where I’d find google less usefu for mel due to Microsoft throwing money at publishers.

    Comment by edkohler -

  33. So let me get this straight. What Mark Cuban is saying that, if Joe User is sitting at his computer, and wants to search for mesothelioma, he will remember to think “Oh yeah, mesothelioma, that search is better on bing. Let me first type in Bing.com into my browser address bar, so I can get a better result for this query.”

    Suuuure.

    Set aside the question as to how Joe User, who is using Google regularly, manages to search for mesothelioma on Bing in the first instance. Set aside the question of how Joe User will notice a markedly better search result for this one query (or even 5% of all his queries). Assume that unlikely chain of events. So what happens next? Well, it is unlikely that Joe User will want to search again for mesothelioma (because presumably his earlier query was satisfied). Instead, he will do a new search, say for “Chicago oncologist”. Assuming that Google still gives Joe User better results for 95% of his queries, then this query is unlikely to be satisfactory. Joe User will then go back to Google and stay there.

    Comment by charlesrevere -

  34. A wise man once said, “TWITTER AND FACEBOOK are platforms that allow the news sources, like newscorp to post breaking news and gain value from their brand. Google does not. In other words, if I trust a newspaper, tv or any brand, I can follow it on twitter and expect the news to come to me. The concept of “If the news is important, it will find me” works better by the day. If it matters to me, chances are very good its in one of the twitter feeds I follow. Having to search for and find news in search engines is so 2008.”

    So what does Microsoft hope to gain by paying News Corp to remove its properties from the Google index? If people get their news from Twitter and Facebook, they’ll hardly miss seeing their favorite news sources listed on Google, much less turn to Bing instead.

    More of my thoughts on this latest attack in the Search Wars here: http://digitalseachange.blogspot.com/2009/11/search-wars-desperate-times-call-for.html

    Comment by aarongoldman -

  35. OK, Mark, I’ll bite.
    From MC> my responses in bold Danny

    “They need the most popular searches in the categories they want to impact. Bing just has to corner the market on specific categories. ”

    Say like shopping? Because Bing’s been doing that for about a year now, offering people cold hard cash money if they do shopping search at Bing — Bing Cashback. In hard economic times, when people nonetheless still need to buy, you’d think this should be bringing people to Bing in droves. And the marketshare growth from that? Not significantly moving the needle.

    From MC> They tried, it had marginal success. So what ? So nothing else will work ? Stop trying ? MicroSoft’s history is about starting last and grinding it out. Sometimes it works, others not. But it works enough for them to keep on trying

    So news? News content that they will still find at Google in other ways is going to drive folks to Bing? Not convinced.

    Corner the market on mesothelioma sites? How do they do this? They payoff the first 10 sites listed in Google and say drop out, give up all that really valuable traffic that you’re paying nothing for, and we’ll give you 10% of that traffic (at best) plus some hushmoney that might not rival what you get off lawsuits? And by the way, when you go, there will be another 200 sites that are probably equally good to you that will move up. Because we can’t buy them all off.

    I Must not have been clear. You dont pay the lawyers. You pay the few actual for profit content sites. In this space there are just a few sites that have made the investment to create legit content. Then there is wikipedia and 3 or 4 legit non profit health sites. Your 200 sites that move up ? Junk. Spam. The hyphened URL sites. Those sites making it to the top of Google is not bad for Bing

    “Then consider MicroSofts first move on twitter…”

    First move of what, three hours? Which gained them a non-exclusive?

    “their investment in Facebook…”

    Which over the past two years has done more and more to open itself, and its content, up to … Google. Because you know, the walled garden still finds itself needing external traffic.

    From MC> I didnt say it gave MS an advantage, I said it could be part of a play into realtime. An area that google is horrible at. Their blog search is incomplete and full of spam. THeir twitter results are buried and when you set option to reflect recency, you get flooded with spam. ITs an area MS can differentiate with if they continue to do it better than Google

    “Which makes the public positions of AP and Reuters and other top news sites all the more interesting. One thing they all have in common ? They dont like the way google has treated them and they all need money.”

    The AP has a deal with Google. They liked how Google was treating them when they cut that deal, well enough. They don’t like Google now simply because, it seems, they want to negotiate more money now that the deal is up for renewal
    From MC> And your point is that MS shouldnt take advantage of this ? They want more money, MS can pay them more money, and get exclusivity down through their members base for the right price. You dont think that will impact Google ? For example, every sports site uses AP summaries after games. Gone. There are so few post game summaries written that literally Google might be without summaries of games for 12 or more hours, if they get them at all. Think MS could use that to their advantage ?

    As for Reuters, president Chris Ahearn said in August that he believes in the link economy. No threats at Google at all. Instead, he blamed news organizations with problems on “Incumbent business leaders in news haven’t been keeping up.”
    From MC> thats great. But TR is a public company. Money talks. And August was before Google Scholar started its head on competition with Westlaw. If he passes up a big payday, he will be looking for a new opportunity

    If AP pulls out of Google, I suspect Ahearn will be happy to take the traffic. If the WSJ goes, I think the NY Times will be happy to take that traffic.

    From MC< What do you think traffic is worth these days ? What is traffic worth if you cant monetize it ? What is traffic worth when it originates from your site rather than through a search engine ? You dont think its worth the same do you ? Is today's repeat news consumer too stupid to bookmark The Wall St Journal or the NYTimes ?
    If you think the NY Times would rather take traffic from google than a check for more than the NPV of the net margins they can generate from that traffic, you are mistaken. And if you think that a big brand like fox or wsj or NYTimes will lose 100pct of its google sent traffic if they de-list, you are mistaken as well. They are big enough brands that some material pct of traffic will go right to the destination site. The only news that is really vanilla and stays with Google are the news service reports. And if MS pays the 2 big services to delist, the people who pop up to replace them are going to have the same business problems as the news sources they are replacing.

    “Many, like Henry Blodgett on Silicon Insider correctly make the point that news from de-listed sites will eventually find its way on to other sites and into the Google Index. But after how long ? Without question there will be a lag time. Which may be all that MicroSing needs. You can get ALL the news you need on Bing NOW, or you can wait for it on Google.”

    Well, maybe a few minutes? If that. Right now, Google’s indexing seems to routinely beat Bing’s. So let’s say the WSJ goes out with a story, something exclusive, and totally only reported out the WSJ.

    Bing might take 30 minutes to show that story. Meanwhile, some news blog sees the story about 1 minute after it appears. They blog it. Google picks them up 1 minute later after they ping Google. So now Google’s 28 minutes ahead.

    from mc> So what does google now have ? They still cant index the end news source. They can index drudge, but not the foxnews.com story it points to. Google has to hope drudge writes the perfect headline. And as far as other types of aggregators, At best the aggregator can put up a story summary. Why wouldnt the sites MS pays block those aggregators ? . Why would they need them ? That traffic aint worth crap.

    And if the aggregators have to manually create summaries and links because they cant scrape the news sites, 30mins to Google is going to seem awful fast.

    But hey, Google’s got a Twitter deal too, right? So you see the WSJ article. You tweet it. It shows up in Google within seconds.

    From MC> Where ? Its buried right now. The twitter searches google does right now are worthless to google users

    Also remember that most of the WSJ (and News Corp content overall, for that matter), is NOT unique content. So Bing has to get ALL the major news organizations to play — and face facts, some of them aren’t upset with Google and figure they can monetize the traffic.

    From MC> you are dead wrong here. True multiple news outlets may cover the same story, but if you havent noticed, the number of news outlets covering stories outside their core /geographic area is dropping as fast as the number of reporters that work for them. The stories you see that are common to many sites are from the news services MS will pay to de-;list, not from internal reporters. Sure, there are a few exceptions, Politico, Huffington post, etc that would benefit, but those sites make their money because the people who have to read them do read them. Their advertisers pay them for their core audiences, not their random visitors. Which means, they would be prime candidates to be paid by Microsoft

    Also remember that much of the traffic to news sites isn’t off the breaking news but off queries over time. If you’re searching for a particular topic, it may be a key article that is listed in “regular” Google that’s generating visits. Pull out of Google, there’s another article there to serve the audience with a non-time sensitive need.

    From MC> true, but that traffic doesnt make the news sites any money. They dont care if they lose that traffic.

    “Google already has a problem in that they do a horrible job of blocking spam in their date sorted results. Removing valid results is going to make their date sorted results look even worse”

    Which is why in news search, date sorting isn’t the default. Relevancy sorting is. And personally, in news search, I haven’t seen this spam problem of which you speak. If you’re talking blog search, different story (and largely non-issue given the low usage there). And when I date sort news stories for “murdoch” in Bing and Google, both seem just fine to me.

    From MC> Try to find your tweet that links to this post

    From MC> I love your posts and retorts to mine. Where I think we have a major disconnect is on 2 fronts. first is the value of traffic. Not all traffic is equal and not all traffic is monetizable. A check from MS is the ultimate monetization, without the risk associated with trying to sell ads around your traffic.

    The 2nd is that the rules of the business of search are set in stone and the risks associated with trying to change them are more costly than the upside of successfully changing them. Microsoft . Fox. AP. Reuters have a huge upside by trying this. Their downside is that they try it. it fails. they go back to the way things were and Google smirks all the way to the bank. I think its a risk worth taking

    Comment by Danny Sullivan -

  36. Microsoft will probably end up doing this, because this is how they play the game. Sure, they are effective at making money, but that is not always (or even normally, one could argue) what is best for the consumer. Google, on the other hand, does things that may possibly help their profits indirectly, but more importantly help consumers (and thus build their positive image, perhaps). It does not help us if MS simply buys out websites; now if they win, it is not because their search engine is better, but because they hurt their opponents. Someone once told me that this is one major difference in many American corporations: rather than bettering themselves, they attempt to knock their opponents down. This drags down the entire sector they are in, which can be seen in almost any market MS has taken over. It would be a sad day for every searcher if this were to happen.

    Comment by mrcalifornian -

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