Google is the lifeblood of small publishers.
Australia is the latest country to consider mandating that Google pay news publishers for “content,” even if this content is just a headline and short snippet.
Google and Google News have become a bogeyman for news publishers who are frustrated by plunging revenue due to the move to digital.
People often go to Google News or Google’s cards on their phone instead of a publisher’s home page because Google News provides a broader range of information from multiple sources and viewpoints than a single publication.
But this means publications get more “drive-by” traffic that only views a single article, and might not be a paying subscriber.
This is a real struggle. Yet forcing Google to pay for showing a headline and snippet is a lousy way to fix the issue. Publishers should try to adapt to offer some of the value that Google News provides instead.
Let’s be clear. The headline and snippet are akin to a search engine results listing for any topic. People want as much free traffic from Google as they can get, but large publishers don’t think this way.
When Spain passed a law forcing Google to pay publishers for Google News, Google shut down News in the country. That didn’t help anyone, and it disproportionately hurt small publishers who depend on Google for traffic.
Even if Google has to pay small publishers, it will likely be a nominal amount of money. Only the larger publishers would receive enough to make a line item for it.
I understand why government leaders are responding to lobbying from the publishing industry. It’s a shame smaller publishers’ concerns aren’t also considered.