Posted August 11, 2008 9:26 am by with 13 comments

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The New York Times asks–almost nonchalantly–Is Google a Media Company?

I’d ask the NYT: Why? Are you scared of the competition?

[Google’s] Knol has been called a potential rival to Wikipedia and other sites whose content spans a broad range of topics, including Mahalo and, a property of The New York Times Company that uses experts it calls “guides” to write articles on a variety of topics.

Reading the article, and those quoted, I can’t help but think that this is the NYT telling Google, "we’re watching what you do with Knol, and we’re ready to cry foul, if it hurts our business."

And, just in case the NYT can’t keep Google in check, it’s brought in the rather vocal Jason Calacanis:

“Google can say they are not in the content business, but if they are paying people and distributing and archiving their work, it is getting harder to make that case,” said Jason Calacanis, the chief executive of Mahalo, a search engine that relies on editors to create pages on a variety of subjects. “They are competing for talent, for advertisers and for users” with content sites, he said.

What’s not mentioned? A lot of those sites, worried about the Knol threat, are displaying Google AdSense ads. They wouldn’t even have a model for monetizing their content, if it were not for Google!

  • WD

    “They wouldn’t even have a model for monetizing their content, if it were not for Google!”

    Which is why the Google/Yahoo partnership needs to be closely examined.

    NY Times as a site itself should not be threatened. actually has useful content, and being editorially controlled will be a plus in the long run. Knol is already becoming a spammer haven, so what credibility it has will be short-lived if Google does not tighten control. Of course, does Google really care if they’re seeing the ad revenue. They have not cleaned up Blogger yet.

  • Let us look at it from the user’s point of view, which I am sure will eventually win. More the competition, the better for content writers, searchers and advertisers. NYT should gear up to compete rather than cry foul!

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  • I’m not sure I agree: I think it’s actually a pretty valid question (is Google becoming a media company) although one I think most of us have already worked out the answer to (clue, it rhymes with bess).

    As for the revenue model, well, they probably would have had revenue models (some sites were making money before Google came along) they just might not be making as much. Or some of them might be making more, as people might not have got as used to being able to directly track ROI if AdWords hadn’t shaken up the market.

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  • Wikipedia has the most to fear.

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  • Funny how the NYT is, in fact, one of Google’s most prominent content partners and is monetized through AdSense.

    Newspapers in particular are facing difficulties monetizing their sites and no viable business model emerged yet: direct ad sales are taking dips, and paid premium content is not feeling too good either. AdSense, therefore, is one of the very few convenient options they have, especially if Google wants their inventory badly enough to offer a contractual min CPM.

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  • Even the offline business start fearing Google. LOL

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  • I think that right now, Google (and Yahoo) might just be facing the potential risk of being bought out by MSM company. If Congress decides to mess with their behavioral ad targeting model, they can end up in dire enough financial straights that someone like Rupert Murdoch could easily swoop in and snatch them up.


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  • I think your post lacks any depth of analysis on what exactly Nytimes emphasised.

    NYtimes is not threatened by Google,since they don”t compete in the same space. Knol is a user generated content which does not have an editorial filter.. Whereas Nytimes is all about the best of news and analysis.. The problem is Google cannot act as a distributer and a content provided at the same time… that is a conflict of interest..this argument perfectly makes sense.

    Regarding your logic of Google Adsense helping to Monetize media propeties.. lets face it .. Google is not doing a favor or a charity by allowing them to run ads.. They do brokerage of ads.. by purchasing them at a lower price and selling them at a higher price…

    Tomorrow if Knol comes up in the top of Google search results…That will drive away a lot of publishers to other media advertisers.. I dont think that should sound good to Google.

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  • I don’t think NYT has anything to worry about– google has no cartoons.