This week’s battle royale has pitted newspapers and traditional media against Google and online news. If you somehow missed it, the CliffsNotes version is that traditional media (Associated Press, newspapers, etc.) are accusing Internet sites (search engines, news aggregators, etc.) of diverting traffic that should be going to news web sites, profiting off news content in violation of copyright law, and essentially sending newspapers into the financial crisis that many are in today.
Amidst all the claims and accusations, Danny took the AP and newspapers out to the woodshed and pointed out what you’d think should be obvious: Newspapers ought to appreciate search engines for sending them so much traffic.
But how much do they send?
Hitwise takes a stab at answering that question with new data that shows search engine traffic (Google, Yahoo, etc.) and other News & Media sites (including Yahoo News and Google News) are easily the top two traffic sources for news and media web sites.
Hitwise indicates that Google News and Yahoo News are Nos. 2 and 4, respectively, in the list of referring sites inside the News & Media category (blue line above). That, combined with Search Engine traffic at an essentially equal level (orange line above), indicates that newspapers are biting the hands that feed them.
In fact, the Hitwise report makes an interesting point:
“Branded searches for news properties represent a large share of the top search terms driving traffic to the category.”
This flies in the face of the AP/newspaper contention that Google and other search engines and news aggregators (like Yahoo News and Google News) are diverting traffic away from news web sites. Not the case. As Hitwise’s Heather Dougherty writes, “Although several of the online aggregators are at the heart of the content distribution argument, they do successfully send visits to news properties rather than keeping them upon their own websites.”
There’s more discussion on Techmeme.