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Rupert Murdoch is a media mogul who hasn't shied away from revealing his true feelings towards Google. The best way to sum them up? If Google didn't exist, he would be all the happier.

Earlier this year, Murdoch asked cable industry execs "Should we be allowing Google to steal all our copyrights?" His response: media execs should be saying "Thanks, but no thanks" to Google.

That's easier said than done, of course, because for all of the complaints media execs have about Google, Google usually sends a lot of traffic their way. As with any good love-hate relationship, media execs say all sorts of nasty things about Google yet none have completely slammed the door on the relationship.

When it comes to News Corp.'s relationship with Google, Murdoch has made it clear that he doesn't think Google isn't contributing much. So why not just update robots.txt on News Corp. websites and kick Google to the curb? Murdoch now says he plans to...when News Corp.'s websites go paid.

Murdoch's plans came to light in an interview with David Speers of Sky News. When Speers asked him why he just doesn't opt-out from Google, Murdoch replied "I think we will". The question that is probably running through a lot of minds right now: is Murdoch crazy?

It would be easy to answer 'yes' but this is Rupert Murdoch we're talking about here and he sort of has a decent track record as a media mogul. So if Murdoch moves ahead with his plan to break up with Google -- and that's still a big if --  there's probably more to the plan than he's revealing right now. Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing speculates that Murdoch might seek a deal with a second-tier search engine:

Murdoch has no intention of shutting down search-engine traffic to his sites, but he's still having lurid fantasies inspired by the momentary insanity that caused Google to pay him for the exclusive right to index MySpace (thus momentarily rendering MySpace a visionary business-move instead of a ten-minutes-behind-the-curve cash-dump).

So what he's hoping is that a second-tier search engine like Bing or Ask (or, better yet, some search tool you've never heard of that just got $50MM in venture capital) will give him half a year's operating budget in exchange for a competitive advantage over Google.

It's an interesting idea, even though I agree with Doctorow that it wouldn't do much for the search engine.

Personally, whatever Murdoch is thinking, I'd like to see him follow through and drop Google. It would probably provide an informative and entertaining case study assuming you're not a nervous News Corp. shareholder. It might even answer the question many media execs don't have the answer to: does Google help more, or hurt more?

Photo credit: Oxfam America via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 9 November, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2377 more posts from this author

Comments (13)

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Jamie Riddell

Pffff, Murdoch yet again gets it wrong. Is this Google bashing more to do with the fact he hasn't delivered on the $900m search deal he did with them (by not hitting traffic targets) (Article: http://bit.ly/2zugWB)? 

Most people forget that Murdoch's News International had a clutch of websites in the first dotcome era which he closed when the going got tough (Revolver, Firedup etc.) so he was late to the party second time around and has yet to realise he is still dancing to a different tune.

Right now Murdoch would be wise to hold onto any form of Google relationship and learn from them, despite Murdoch's massive successes, Google are the ones that have demonstrated how to make money out of this channel, not Murdoch.

I don't think any business plan whether it be Murdoch size or small business size should rely on Google for income but when your $580m purchase misses its search revenue target by $100m and still rents $1m of empty office for the Myspace dream (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2009/nov/09/rupert-murdoch-news-corporation) you should not be looking to close such a stream.

UNLESS he can demonstrate how he is going to make back the lost Google income [both direct revenue and revenue from traffic generated by Google] he should suck it up.

over 6 years ago

Matthew Carrozo

Matthew Carrozo, Digital Marketing Manager at Freesat (UK) Limited

This man really doesn't understand what's going on, does he? Murdoch's seeking to pass the bill to the very consumers who make up his powerbase. It not only shows the supreme arrogance of a man used to driving public opinion and swaying elections, it shows his complete disconnect from - and lack of desire to learn about - the web-savvy generations who are quickly proving to be his undoing. In reaction to last week's revelations about the delay in pay walls and anti-trust issues, I wrote this piece about how the future lies not in the sales of products like news articles, but of services around them.

over 6 years ago

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Digistar

Don't underestimate the man's know-how and influence in the industry. A really successful businessman he is - to think that because he is old he wouldn't understand what he is talking about would be a big mistake.

over 6 years ago

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Damian Kimmelman

I agree, with Digistar completely. I think Murdoch is right in principle and wrong in execution. News sites currently dont make money and cant sustain themselves off of poor returning, invasive adverts, but this makes one massive assumption that that is the only model that works with free and that doesn't work. The WSJ and the Economist work because they are full of analysis and added value not just the hard core facts like the news, although you could have a go at Murdoch for not reporting enough of the news, and providing too much opinion, however if you are going to charge for content it has to be extremely unique and add value. This can come in a number of forms through subscriber only web apps, unique analysis, and unique offline experiences, none of these were mentioned by him. Whenever the price of a commodity comes close to zero (news in this case), one must make a decision to give it away for free or move to higher ground by adding value, it's not rocket science! What is not that smart, is denying that things have changed and providing the same commodity and charging for it. Although I would actually side with subscription over free, I believe both are viable solutions, its all in the execution. 

over 6 years ago

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Carl Barron

Cut your nose off to spite your face comes to mind.

Advertising revenue is News Corps biggest revenue stream by reducing access to your Sites will reduce revenues.

Signed Carl Barron Chairman of agpcuk

over 6 years ago

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lofa

Good. Let him block his propaganda garbage from Google. Who cares about Murd(er)och. He's just another greedy money monster. As the old saying goes, a fool and his money soon part.

over 6 years ago

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Neale Gilhooley

Everyone should watch/listen to the whole interview - "Last desperate act of an Empire in decline I don't think so.

I don't want to see Google dominate search forever, but I have even less empathy for NewsCorp.  I can't see myself paying for any NewsCorp online content, not when bbc.co.uk is around and better.

over 6 years ago

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Paul Emmons

Isn't this like a library's throwing away its catalog-- in this case, just because someone else compiled it?   People are used to using Google and finding hundreds or thousands of hits for any term they type in.  It may be lazy and stupid not to do anything more than that by way of research, but all too many college students fit the description.  They'll never notice what they don't find there.

Mencken said that no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.  I predict that Murdoch has just overestimated that of his public.

over 6 years ago

Jack Hubbard

Jack Hubbard, Managing Director at Propellernet

This is a subject i follow closely, i'll add a argument for and against that statement.

Against:
A consultant to “one of the UK's largest newspaper groups” and competitor of News International recently posted a comment on the subject of selling SEO links (http://econsultancy.com/blog/4750-buying-or-selling-seo-links-look-at-the-trouble-youre-causing)
stating that “the lion’s share of my responsibility rests with the selling of advertorials containing links for SEO purposes.” And “Major brands DO buy links contained within advertorials”. So in blocking Google, News International would be closing off a lucrative and growing revenue stream, one that their competitors are starting to enjoy.

For:
The chink in Google’s armour is greater than most people seem to think. Google supremacy is based simply on delivering more relevant search results than its competitors. Google rely heavily on interpreting the links on major news websites to produce relevant search results. If the major news websites formed an alliance, and blocked Google from analyzing their outbound links, relevance of results would suffer. This would create an opening for a new search engine with more relevant results, backed by the major news websites (and the relevancy cues they bring to the ranking algorithm), to rise and challenge Google.

over 6 years ago

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SEO Ireland

I agree with Jack hubbard - Murdock is looking at an angle to compete and gain some market share of what is a hugely dominated business in all sectors by Google. His influence, wealth and power could see the path turn slightly where newscorp content would only be available direct or on a platform where other players deny google access to their content.

One thing is for sure, its definrtly a bid to develop exclusivity to his content with some sort of a deal in mind for the future to sell the rights to the content.

I cant see him trying to compete with Google on a whole but certainly for the news sector of search, by denying access he creates a divide and will try to force traffic to his sites. It will really boil down to loyalty and whether the google habitual user will be bothered to search for news in a different place. Big Gamble.

over 6 years ago

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Andrew Liddell, Ecommerce Business MGR at Personal

Quote Ashley, 

"Think no-one is doing this...? You'd be wrong.

Check out Autotrader's site - look at any page with the full car details (not section pages, home page etc.) and view page source and you'll see this:

<meta name="googlebot" content="noindex"/> 
<meta name="robots" content="noindex"/> 

And there are other sites (e.g. some medical info sites). "

What content does Autotrader provide that they are loosing money on producing? 

They are not only blocking Google, other robots are included. Its more a logistical decision and a tactical one. Who would want to search for a BMW 320cd on google to be presented with pages and pages of week old ads which are not in any particular filtered order especially when people selling their cars pay to be at the top with bold headings etc (just like ebay) 

Maybe theres a better example? 

over 6 years ago

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Carl Barron

The clocks still ticking Rupert and no sign of your pay-walls yet? Well it’s now Tuesday, 01 June 2010 and no sign of Murdoch’s pay walls as yet in the TimesOnLine. So has Rupert heeded my many warnings as to possible lost revenue streams from advertising, for who will advertise in a Newspaper when it has a very limited audience? Come on Rupert, you really were doing one of your famous windups weren’t you? The clocks still ticking Rupert. Signed Carl Barron Chairman of agpcuk http://carl-agpcuk.livejournal.com/ http://www.dorsetvisualguide.co.uk/

about 6 years ago

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asha

Hi All, 

How do you allow to Google to steal the copyrights ? I don't why the topic has arised , as the world know they have implemented the best ways of internet marketing and has created a new trend in the internet. Now more than 40% of people now using internet for several purposes. many niche sites have come up as an alternative  for ex : www.trovit.com  is one among to provide a niche service... Please have a look at how it helps you .. 

Thanks..

about 6 years ago

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