Posted March 23, 2009 9:38 am by with 6 comments

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In Advertising Age there is a reportad-age-logo of the rumblings of the media giants and their apparent slighting at the hands of Google. The attitude of the article, which comes from one of the standards of the traditional media industry, is certainly protective of its turf since it refers to Google’s “undifferentiated slush of results”.

Wow, way to stay unbiased right out of the gate. The gist of this story is that the big boys of big media are complaining that Google is not giving them their due. Of course, with advertising being in the crapper they now have decided that they need to get traffic somehow and their “Oh look! There’s a search engine over there that people seem to use! Maybe we should get involved!” attitude just further validates that they are way behind the curve with new media.

So how do these big players get in the game? They get a private audience with Google through the Google’s Publisher’s Advisory Council to air their grievances with the engine in an invitation only environment. One has to wonder that if you get this level of face time with the engine that you may have figured out something by now but I digress. Members include ESPN, BusinessWeek, New York Times, The Wall Street Journal etc. You get the picture.

They also hold meetings that are closed to the press and apparently complain to each other.

Then in January, Martin Nisenholtz, New York Times Co. senior VP-digital operations, got up at the annual Online Publishers Association summit in Florida, an event closed to the press, to blast both the algorithm and the results presentation on the screen.

They complain that their brands are not given any special notice since every result looks the same. They are concerned that bloggers, which are affectionately referred to as parasites, get some kind of special treatment through their tactics. They say the results are not relevant as well with their news not getting the attention over Wikipedia entries etc. Admittedly, they may have a point there. Then they try to sound a bit more diplomatic as well.

Publishers said they’re not asking for a leg up over amateurs and link-happy bloggers. “This would in no way mean that only professional content publishers would get an advantage,” one said. “It really just says that the original source, and the source with real access, should somehow be recognized as the most important in the delivery of results.”

At the end of April they will reconvene with Google in hopes that Google will give them details of their plans to help. That should be an interesting meeting since details for any plans these days are hard to come by I suspect the publishers may walk away dissatisfied regardless of what Google says to them.

While this is happening they are concentrating on creating some leverage with the engines by adopting the Automated Content Access Protocol whish will tell the engines what they can and cannot use in the SERP’s and protects copyrights. How restricting what the engines can use will endear them to the likes of Google is not real clear since the Internet and restrictions have never played well together in the past.

There are big publishers though who do not subscribe wholly to this thinking. To sum up:

Some publishers concede, however, they could help themselves more too. “Google has designed an algorithm,” one said. “They don’t owe us that we show up a particular way. They do publish a whole lot about how to make your site show up as much as possible. If people haven’t taken action on it, that’s their own damn fault.”

Wow! How logical and reasonable of that one unnamed executive. Maybe he should get a bit of time in one of these conferences and inform everyone that there are ways to do this stuff that requires more than just an attitude. So all you SEO experts get on the phone today to big media. Maybe now they’ll listen.

  • To the Media:

    Have you ever heard of SEO? Maybe now you should start using it instead of asking Google to give you results on a silver platter.


    Nate @ Debt-free Scholar’s last blog post..20 Free Online Courses from Traditional Colleges and Universities

  • Interesting perspectives from those companies. Frankly, a lot of bloggers present better information than the original sources, which is why they tend to rank higher. A write-up of a product on Engadget often does a better job explaining a new gadget than the original site – or at least does so in a more consumer friendly manner, which is why it gets linked to more often than the original source.

    The only reason comparison sites have done so well online is because brands do such a horrible job explaining their products in consumer friendly manners. So sites like,, etc. pop up to fill the void.

    Ed Kohler’s last blog post..Restaurant Web Design Done Right

  • In commercial markets a great many companies employ “SEO experts” to help manipulates Google’s results giving them leverage over others. Why shouldn’t prime content providers use the same techniques? Restricting search engine access to content based for copyright reasons is just the wrong thing to be doing in my opinion

    Owen’s last blog post..How about a mixer?

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  • These big media have still brand recognition and “link juice” to offer.

    If they would see themselves as “in the center of an influence network” and not as a portal , they could exchange this link juice against control over the exposition of their content, ad placement opportunity.


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