Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Adtribution Might Be A Solution For Murdoch, A.P, Et Al, Versus The News Aggregators And Bloggers

Posted by Tom Foremski - April 7, 2009

Rupert Murdoch wants a Google rebellion, says Forbes. Murdoch calls Google, Yahoo copyright thieves, says Wired. Newspaper groups step up propaganda war on Google, says the Daily Telegraph. And in today's New York Times, A.P. seeks to rein in sites using its content.

The saber rattling has been going on for a while but now the battle lines are being drawn. And it is all because news is not free. News has been made available for free, and it has been made into a commodity but that is not its future because there is no future in that model. You will have to pay for it.

That means the end of the news aggregators. That means the end to arguments that the news aggregators send high volumes of traffic to the online publishers.

What is the use of more traffic when it cannot be monetized to support the work of the news organizations?

The only "news" that will remain free will be press releases--but there is little value in that type of unfiltered "news" source.

But, there may be a solution to keeping news free, one that takes advantage of the distribution power of Google, bloggers, and the large number of of social network users sharing content -- while at the same time making some money for the media companies.

In Monday's NYT article: Associated Press Seeks More Control of Content on Web

They [A.P. executives] said they did not want to stop the appearance of articles around the Web, but to exercise some control over the practice and to profit from it.

I have a solution: A content license for any online site that also publishes the content owners' designated ads.

For example, if you republish a news story you also publish alongside it one or more "adtribution" links, simple text ads with live links, designated by the content creator.

In this way, news media companies get a big benefit from having their news stories distributed for free by the news aggregators, bloggers, and online socialistas -- and their advertisers also get the distribution, which would improve ad revenues for the content producer. News would (might) remain free.

Adtribution links would "stick" with the content. These days fewer and fewer people visit a news site, they read news stories in their RSS newsreaders, or on news aggregator sites. News content is ever more becoming divorced from its web site, which means so are its advertisers.

Adtribution links could be sent along with RSS feeds and help reunite content with its supporting advertisers.

It would be simple to automate it, news aggregators and blogging software could be set up to automatically copy a set of associated live ad links, at the same time the content is copied and pasted.

Adtribution links could be attached to any shareable, embeddable media. And they could be widgetized so that their ad content could be changed at any time.

In some cases, sites that republish content might agree to run adtribution links in a permanent part of their page, so they aren't directly next to the content, for aesthetic or other reasons.

Would something like this be enough to appease the newspaper industry and keep our news free?

Will bloggers etc, be willing to republish text ads? Probably not. But they could get used to it. We can all get used to it.

I remember the hue and cry in the early days of the Internet that users would not tolerate advertising on the Internet. We got used to it, and I predict we'll get used to many more online business models. Some will work.

Here's a catchy slogan: "Adtribution supports the source." Maybe the media moguls will catch notice.

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Please see:

Silicon Valley Watcher:

"Google Devalues Everything It Touches" - Wall Street Journal Chief

FutureWatch: The End Of The News Aggregators And The Future Of News

Support the Source: Creating a New Media Business Model and Keeping the Web Open

Virtual cash could save newspapers | Tom Foremski: IMHO | ZDNet.com

Newspapers: 25 things to try before turning off the lights | Tom Foremski: IMHO | ZDNet.com

Interesting quote in Associated Press Seeks More Control of Content on Web - NYTimes.com

One goal of The A.P. and its members, she said, is to make sure that the top search engine results for news are “the original source or the most authoritative source,” not a site that copied or paraphrased the work.

What about all the newspapers that are part of AP and copy the news? Who gets pole position as original or authoritative? AP is funded by the newspapers and it is becoming very competitive with its own members. Interesting.

Murdoch Calls Google, Yahoo Copyright Thieves — Is He Right? | Threat Level from Wired.com

It's unsettled whether search engines have a valid fair use claim under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The news headlines are copied verbatim, as are some of the snippets that go along.

Newspaper groups step up propaganda war on Google :: Shane Richmond

Guardian Media Group has been lobbying the Government to investigate Google "from the point of view of competition law principles".

Google dubbed internet parasite by WSJ editor | The Australian

...Thomson said it was "amusing" to read media blogs and comment sites, all of which traded on other people's information.

"There is no doubt that certain websites are best described as parasites or tech tapeworms in the intestines of the internet."

..."It's certainly true that readers have been socialised -- wrongly I believe -- that much content should be free," he said.

"They are basically editorial echo chambers rather than centres of creation, and the cynicism they have about so-called traditional media is only matched by their opportunism in exploiting the quality of traditional media," he said.

AP Launching News Industry Campaign To ‘Protect’ News Content | paidContent.org

The first two areas include using AP’s tagging abilities to set up a system to track content online and developing search landing pages. Cross said AP is already “ingesting and tagging most of the newspaper content in the U.S.” Tags would be set up that would help track the progress of stories and even headlines. AP isn’t talking about licensed content. “What we’re really talking about here is much broader use, the commercialization of news that is scraped.”

Interview: Dean Singleton, AP Chairman: Setting ‘The Rules Of Engagement’ | paidContent.org

Singleton didn’t pull any punches during our phone interview—repeating in various ways, “We own the content. We can use it as we see fit because it’s ours.” But he didn’t provide much detail, either. What he did say: print isn’t going away, advertising can’t carry the weight anymore, and online pay models may be on the way

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