Analysis: "Online news aggregators – friend or foe?"

“Online news aggregators – friend or foe?” via Hitwise Intelligence.

Like many categories, search is one of the main sources that drive traffic to the News & Media category, referring nearly 22% of visits in March 2009. Branded searches for news properties represent a large share of the top search terms driving traffic to the category. Another major source is the front pages of portals such as Yahoo! and MSN, including the personalized versions like My Yahoo and My MSN. In comparison, social networking websites and blogs referred a far smaller share of visits to News & Media websites from links or references posted on their pages.

Mini what it means: as I blogged about a few days ago, many newspaper organizations are questioning the role of Google (and other search engines & aggregators) in the Web ecosystem. Hitwise has data that shows that aggregator (if they respect “fair use”) create traffic value in the ecosystem.  One question mark though: are aggregators building their brands to the detriment of news outlets? I don’t think anyone has answered that question yet.

2 thoughts on “Analysis: "Online news aggregators – friend or foe?"

  1. It is a very good question. I think there are two solid arguments for both sides. On one hand, Google drives lots of traffic to local newspaper sites, however, on the other hand there is little rhyme or reason to Google news. I use Google news all the time, so yes I am one of those users who use the aggregator, although I also have some direct feeds in my iGoogle account for specific Canadian newspapers.

    One thing that I noticed about Google News (especially for the feed for Calgary) is that many of the links to Calgary news are from websites that are not even located in Canada. When I visit the CalgaryHerald.com for example, I often see the same stories here, which makes me wonder, who posted the information first (likely CanWest) yet why is the traffic being sent to newspaper properties outside of my local market?

    I fully agree with a previous post from Danny Sullivan taking about the flaws with the current newspaper model, however, I think it is self-serving for the aggegators to also ensure that the local (or major) newspaper players don’t get all the traffic. When the aggegators start to wrap their own advertising around content, then the name of the business potentially is about divide the traffic to ensure no one player can have all the traffic and then conquer the key ad placement inventory by offering your ad platform as a way to monetize.

    By no means am I defending the newspaper business and its current business models, however, I won’t defend the aggegators either. These are multi-national corporations whose primary job is create shareholder value – we must never forget that the name of the game is money and profit for the aggregators.

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