The web is all abuzz today with the news that Rupert Murdoch is threatening to block Google from indexing NewsCorp’s content. Jason Calacanis & the Blogging Maverick have both jumped into the fray encouraging Rupe to go for it and give Google the NoIndex Finger.

It’s certainly worth a shot and if he can get a lot of other big publishers to do it with him he might have started a powerful movement, but there’s a reason why the original headline for this post was:

“Rupert Murdoch = Howard Stern Without The Lesbians”.

  1. Stern effectively noindexed himself from broadcast radio when he signed an exclusive deal with SiriusXM
  2. This was great for satellite radio listeners – and great for Howard as he got a huge payout – but when was the last time you heard anything about Howard Stern in the media?
  3. Out of sight = Out of mind.  NoIndex = NoVisibility

Now there are plenty of other ways to get found besides Google, and sure Rupert could do some kind of deal with Bing to offer them exclusive access, but I think this only works as long a you have unique, differentiated products, and most news is not that unique.

Sites like Huffington Post & Drudge will quickly figure out a way to use summaries of NewsCorp’s content to attract readers much as they do today.  Maybe NewsCorp gets some subscribers downstream as a result, but without the uber-low-cost-visibility that SEO can supply, NewsCorp will inevitably have to up its marketing spend which will make it harder to make their business profitable.

Google is not the newspapers’ disease, it’s just a symptom.  The newspaper companies have needed to reinvent themselves for a long time.  Maybe something with lesbians might be a good way to go.

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4 Response Comments

  • Bill G  November 9, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    ooooh wouldn’t that be great? Sure its probably a ploy. Who is going to challenge the almighty Googlopoly. 🙂 They pretty much cornered the market., kind of like Rupe is working on himself. Ya know, the lesbian thing might not be a bad idea… oh wait. you already mentioned Huffington..

  • John  November 10, 2009 at 4:29 am

    I fully support his right to use noindex or seek creative ways to monetize online content, but the second he starts trying to get legislation involved is when I say enough! His plan doesn’t make much sense, unless its backed up with something like anti-neutrality & deals with the ISPs, or some kind of new ridiculous crackdown on all kinds of derivative works. Of course, he’s always speaking out against the very concept of fair use and trying to criminalize secondary applications of content, so I’m sure he sees the “big picture” of how he can overturn the entire industry.

    Now hopefully, he puts his content behind the paywall and loses all his influence before he goes in to the big push for new legislation. Only SEO and organic diffusion of his propaganda could deliver enough support to get ridiculous laws passed. Luckily, I think the irony of that is lost on him and I’m hoping it derails any momentum in his favor.

    Really though, I’m starting to wonder, is there anyone who buys into his views on media, or is he so absurdly lost in the mid-20th century media model that his ideas are just really fun to laugh at?

  • Wege  November 13, 2009 at 3:18 am

    I agree with John. He can use his noindex finger. If not , probably Rupert might have to think of something else to turn this thing around.

  • Bernie  November 19, 2009 at 4:08 am

    Hi Andrew.

    Free has never been a great business model – unless you get some compensation from it (bigger audience – bigger ad revenue). Transforming NewsCorp online properties into paid websites will not compensate loss of ad revenue.

    I would suggest restricting Google from a members’ only paid section of NewsCorp websites (where there is more content, more in-depth analysis, more lesbians), rather than blocking it from indexing the all lot.

    Then Murdoch can keep its ad revenue and maybe even generate some extra bucks from the members’ fees.