free html hit counter A Business Model For News - John Battelle's Search Blog

A Business Model For News

By - June 24, 2008

Seems everyone today is talking about why Google News isn’t growing as fast as most other news sites. I think the answer is easy: There’s no business model. If Google were making money off Google News, I bet it’d be growing pretty darn fast. Simple. When something adds value, value get added back to it.

I’ve long thought that Google News should have a business model. But that would mean Google act like a publisher…..


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6 thoughts on “A Business Model For News

  1. Howard Owens says:

    Or it could be that computer aggregation is not as rewarding for users as human aggregation.

    I’m hard pressed to find what I would define as business model for Drudge Report, but his one-man site does OK for itself.

  2. I think the big word you’re missing is YET. Remember, search didn’t start off as a moneymaker either. First huge growth and then proper monetization.

  3. nmw says:

    Isn’t the most appropriate term to classify what Google does “software publishing”? Perhaps the “ranking algorithm” has progressed from code the size of a plain text editor to the size of something like Microsoft’s “Word” application, but it is still nothing more than a number-crunching machine. And as time goes on, it is gradually acquiring a certain allure — something like a well-worn Rubik’s cube at a garage sale.

    But as I have been saying for some time now: applications don’t matter — they have become commoditized. When more people realize this, you will see that there is not only “no profit” in Google News, but there is indeed no profit in Google, period.

    The main problem Google has is that it no longer works very well. Spammers clog up the cogs with so much spam (indeed, the entire blogging publishing industry seems to have grown out of a “need” to churn out links). And Google’s engine is nothing short of a “miserable failure” at gauging the relevance of documents. Only teenagers who cannot yet grasp the idea that Google’s algorithm might be missing something “believe” in it.

    Ergo: Google is a religion more than anything else.

  4. michael_s says:

    techmeme is a good place to look for a business model. he is not a publisher yet has carved out a niche advertising model that works — I actually click on the techmeme ads every so often. Not clear that you can create a few hundred million $ business out of that model, but its a start.

  5. Bill says:

    Maybe there shouldn’t be a business, much less a business model.

    No original content and most importantly, no marketing, promotion, or packaging (branding) which are fundamental to reving and maintaining the interest of media/news consumers.

    But hey, they’re Google. Who am I to disagree?

  6. Ian Lamont says:

    Micro is spot-on regarding Google’s “build it first, monetize it later” approach, but I think there’s another factor at play: Most mainstream news consumers aren’t aware of algorithmic editors, and may not be ready for them, either.

    Ask friends or relatives who aren’t heavy Web users or Web professionals about their online news preferences, and many will cite blogs, local newspaper and TV websites, and national news organizations (Time, NYT, CNN, etc.) as starting points. These are familiar and often trusted gatekeepers.

    Others may use search, and see the Google News link at the top of the results (“News results for ….”) but may be more compelled to click on the links immediately following, which will take them to timely and relevant news articles about the search term, some of them from known, trusted sources.

    I think Google News and other algorithmic editors will make more of an impact when they are integrated into other services, such as social networks and existing news sites. That could be a business model for Google News — a custom widget that lets publishers tweak or customize the news results (only local, all sports except hockey, “Obama” and “McCain” but not “Barr” etc.) and generates revenue through a licensing model or AdSense revenue split.