I’ve been on about this for a long time, how Yahoo and Google can and should be the distributor of choice for the publishing industry, if the publishers can only get out of their own way with regards to their old business models. It’s the music industry and digital distribution story all over again. Consumers want their music a la carte, but it took the labels forever to ween themselves off the pre-packaged delivery system of CDs. But sell songs the way consumers want to buy them, and for less, and all of a sudden you will see a massive uptake in purchasing, as well as new models like subscription.
Well, the same can be said of publisher’s content. Especially stuff like LexisNexis, or Thompson/Gale, or the Wall Street Journal. Yahoo today announced that they have cut deals with all these publishers, among others, to include their content, or at least summaries of it, in Yahoo searches (some are forthcoming, others are in at launch). Yahoo is calling this services “Yahoo Search Subscriptions.” Unfortunately, the publishers are not letting Yahoo do what, really, Yahoo should be doing, which is acting as a central clearinghouse for transactions and subscription fulfillment/services. You still have to manage your sub with each individual publisher, which is way too much friction to activate the long tail user of paid content. But it’s a step, and I think once the publishers dip their feet in, they’ll realize the water is just fine.
In essence, publishers are terrified that if they allow their content into search engines, they’ll never get paid for it, and they’ll lose the relationship with the customer to boot. The database aggregators like LexisNexis, In particular, are wary of search. But if I could find LexisNexis articles in a Yahoo search, and easily click through and read them for a small fee (or a Rhapsody like option that lets me buy an unlimited sub for say $10 a month), why, I’d do it all day long. But don’t ask me to log in to LexisNexis each time. Let Yahoo handle that. And don’t make me pay $5 for each article. I’ll never do it.
Paid Content coverage notes that no money is yet changing hands, it’s simply a hand off between Yahoo and content partners. That is silly. When will publishers realize that Yahoo is the new newsstand, and they’ve earned their cut?
Gary has a long and well thought out overview here.
Press release in extended entry.
EMBARGO UNTIL 9:00 PM PST JUNE 15, 2005
YAHOO! SEARCH LAUNCHES SEARCH SUBSCRIPTIONS BETA, PROVIDING SELECT DEEP WEB CONTENT TO USERS
Yahoo! Becomes First Major Search Engine to Enable Users to Search Their Personal Subscription Content
Sunnyvale, CA – June 16, 2005 — Yahoo! Inc., a leading global Internet company, today announced the beta launch of Yahoo! Search Subscriptions (http://search.yahoo.com/subscriptions), a service that enables users to search multiple online subscription content sources and the Web from a single search box. Subscription content includes for-pay news and reference Web sites. Yahoo! Search is the first major search engine to offer the ability to search for personal subscription content found in the “deep web.” The deep web includes millions of access-restricted Web sites containing content that search engines typically cannot access. The service is initially available in the U.S. and the UK.
In the past, Yahoo! users who had access to content that requires registration had to visit and search several sites across the Internet to perform a comprehensive search that included their subscription content. Now, using Yahoo! Search Subscriptions, users can find information from some of the largest, most popular consumer, research and business publishers through a single integrated search experience through Yahoo! Search. Initial content is provided by ConsumerReports.org, The Wall Street Journal Online, TheStreet.com, The New England Journal of Medicine, IEEE and Forrester Research Inc., along with subscription content from Financial Times. Additionally, content from Factiva, LexisNexis AlaCarte!™ pay-as-you-go, Thomson Gale and ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) will be included in the coming weeks.
“We are in the very early stages of providing our users with access to the deep web through Yahoo! Search Subscriptions and over the coming months we plan to expand this program to further accommodate our users’ wide range of interests,” said Eckart Walther, vice president, product management, Yahoo!, Inc. “For the first time, publishers can bring content to their subscribers on a broad scale through a leading search engine.”
To use Yahoo! Search Subscriptions, users can select from a list of subscription content sources. When a search is conducted, their subscription content appears in their Web results, and is displayed as a separate module above the standard search results. If users choose to integrate this experience in future Web searches, they can permanently add the list of subscriptions they want to search via the Yahoo! Search preferences page. In addition, users can restrict searches to specific participating content sources by going to http://search.yahoo.com/subscriptions. To view subscription content, users must be a subscriber of the publisher’s Web site.
In addition to improving the Yahoo! Search experience for users, Yahoo! Search Subscriptions increases the value of publishers’ subscription programs by making their content more readily searchable by the Yahoo! audience of 372 million unique users. This service provides a new content distribution channel that can help publishers achieve business objectives.
“Yahoo! Search Subscriptions benefits our online subscribers by providing a direct channel to our world leading business, financial, geopolitical news and analysis content through a world renowned search engine,” said Alex Withers, Director of FT.com, Americas. “Partnering with Yahoo! makes perfect sense for publishers looking to provide users with a more-well rounded search experience.”
Yahoo! Inc. is a leading provider of comprehensive online products and services to consumers and businesses worldwide. Yahoo! is the No. 1 Internet brand globally and the most trafficked Internet destination worldwide. Headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., Yahoo!’s global network includes 25 world properties and is available in 13 languages.