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Idea Dumb, Guys

By - June 08, 2004

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In an earlier post I referred to this piece (on a keynote at a B2B trade show) and ranted a bit about trade magazines, the internet, and the like, but it seems the Ad Age story missed what I think is the key piece of blinkered thinking that came from the speech. Rafat points it out:

Trade Companies To Block Google and Other Search Engines?: It is an idea floated by International Data Group CEO Pat Kenealy, no less. He gave a speech recently at American Business Media conference, and also talked about Google’s effect on trade media companies and magazine industry…
In the latest issue of Media Business magazine (it is available as a PDF and rather cumbersome to download, as the whole magazine in split into two PDFs…the Google story is broken in the middle), a story discusses the Google conundrum for magazine publishers…and quotes Kenealy on his speech at the ABM conference: “Kenealy has floated the idea that American Business Media member companies should agree to block Google and other search engines from crawling their sites. Together, these business media companies could develop their own search algorithm, or they might cut a more favorable revenue-sharing deal with an existing search engine, he said.”

Rearrange the deck chairs, boys! Let’s all get a good view of our asses as we sink to the bottom….Sure, you can put your site behind registration, I mean, many do, though they’re learning that even pages behind registration should be visibile in some way to engines. But block search engines? How about next you go off the power grid and start churning butter by hand? And whoa boy, do I want to see the search algorithms these guys might come up with.

Cut a deal with search engines to get revenue for inclusion? Yeah, but it flows the other way in this market. B2B, meet CAP or AdWords. Get the engines to pay you for the honor of searching your content? Er…no. But you might start to think about getting into the domain specific game, where instead of circling wagons, you add value (something most B2B publishers have long ago forgotten about – how much do they really care about high quality editorial, past lip service?). Here’s a place to start….

Meanwhile, note this: Startup TechTarget, which is based entirely on the internet, just got $70 million (that’s Seven Oh) in venture. It’s main competitor besides CNET? IDG. I wonder if it’s interested in blocking search engines. I know from talking to Shelby at CNET that they certainly aren’t, in fact, they’re optimized for search – they want to be found, they think what they have is worth knowing about. Indeed.

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3 thoughts on “Idea Dumb, Guys

  1. The funny thing is, the trade companies could make good money buying paid search ads on Google, effectively laying a huge dragnet through Google’s traffic to pull the searches they have good content for. Other trade publications are doing it and the spread is significant, not to mention a primary source of new registrations.

  2. aaron wall says:

    If the articles are not compelling enough to be able to pull in good ad revenue then why should search engines want to pay to get that kind of quality (or lack of quality) document in their index?

    The web is about syndication and distribution. By blocking their content they further lower their distribution levels making their ad space worth a decent amount less.

    Even if they made their own proprietary search engine some of the magazines participating in the portal project would most likely manipulate the results there for their own gain…it is just an all around dumb idea!!!

  3. Matt Cook says:

    If a magazine is trying to increase the readership (and ad revenue) for a page, then sure they should make that page as spiderable as possible (at least for 3rd party services that only display summaries).

    However, if they’re trying to promote themselves as a category killer (aka an authority site), and they’re not clearly the best in that category; then some reserve is warranted. There are benefits to having people go to your front page, and trusting your editorial descression over a search engine or agregator.

    The magazines and other content providers offer search just like the engines do. The BBC and A9 probably do it best, with their well placed inclusion of Google results. A magazine industry or individual content producer owned portal similar to either site would be a good way to go.

    Having a strong search engine of their own allows them to remain/become the authority they want to be. It would also be a great tool for selling people paid content.

    But only if it was very large would it become many people’s second or third search engine – a vital prerequisite for restricting access to their free content. Before then, it should still make at least some of it’s free content available, as free advertising for their service.

    BTW Looksmart already has a magazine search engine. It can be found at http://www.findarticles.com. It’s not particularly successfull, but that could well be due to a lack of marketing.