Over the last few years, I have been watching the discussion, desperation, and corporate posturing around paid content closely, and this coupled with being part of the development community on Google’s next big move, has left me in no doubt as to the future of content delivery.
Publishers no longer control digital distribution. The choice is to either go free with Google, and find other ways to try and make up the shortfall in the P&L, or backtrack, take their content out of Google and aggregators, and go it alone. Of course I am simplifying, and there are options in between those extremes, but publishers are wondering: To Google or Not to Google? But should we redefine the question to “provide utility or no utility?” That’s a much more revealing way to look at the issues facing the publishing industry.
Let’s start with some background (please skip down a few paragraphs if you are up to date):
Publishers always used to own the distribution channel. By packaging news, analysis and opinion as physical products (newspapers, magazines, and books), or by delivering a service (paid syndication and newswires), they had control over the exploitation of the value they were creating.