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Content from major newspapers and news wires is often popular fodder for blogs large and small. Many, if not most, major news organizations have not, however, been enthused by the (fair) use of their content by bloggers.

But The Guardian has another message for bloggers: take our content and post it on your blog, please.

At a time when an increasing number of publishers are erecting pay walls, or considering them, The Guardian is moving in the opposite direction. Its Open platform, a "suite of services for developing digital products and applications with the Guardian", invites developers to take The Guardian's content and do interesting things with it.

Last week, it released a plugin for WordPress that takes advantage of the Open Platform and allows bloggers using WordPress to easily post The Guardian's content on their blogs. Matt McAlister, the Head of the Guardian Development Network, thinks it’s a shining example of what The Guardian can do with its platform:

...the WordPress plugin is a fantastic example of just one way we are reinforcing our leading position as an innovator in digital technology.

Bloggers will be able to browse through our articles on the WordPress platform, choosing which articles they wish to publish on their blogs.

By turning bloggers into a distribution channel for Guardian content, The Guardian is obviously hoping that it will be able to expand its reach. Given that some publishers aren't even interested in licensing their content to third parties willing to pay for it, The Guardian's offering will have little competition right now. For that reason, it should also have some appeal.

Bloggers who use the plugin don't have to pay The Guardian a licensing fee, but must permit the Guardian's plugin to insert Guardian-controlled ads that are displayed alongside its content. Obviously, if a few bloggers with significant traffic use the plugin, The Guardian might have a new revenue stream on its hands, although it's hard to say how big that revenue stream might realistically be.

Of course, the Guardian's offering isn't without risk. Its content and ads could be embedded on sites that the Guardian and/or its advertisers would rather not be associated with. And letting everyone embed your content on their sites could promote the commoditization of your content more than it promotes the value of it. But if being too open has its risks, so does being too closed. After all, publishers who erect pay walls risk losing a large chunk of their online readership.

The truth is that the status quo is working for few publishers, and most of them will have to make changes. For some, that means becoming more closed. For some, like The Guardian, that means becoming more open. Whether one approach generally works better than the other is something we will soon hopefully find out.

Patricio Robles

Published 6 July, 2010 by Patricio Robles

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

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Comments (6)

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Caroline Bell

With more emphasis on sharing of information across the online community and less concerns about the duplication of content by 3rd parties, I think this is a great move by The Guardian. More positive than negative implications from an SEO point of view.

over 6 years ago

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Arileo

Bloggers who use the plugin don't have to pay The Guardian a licensing fee, but must permit the Guardian's plugin to insert Guardian-controlled ads that are displayed alongside its content. Obviously, if a few bloggers with significant traffic use the plugin, The Guardian might have a new revenue stream on its hands, although it's hard to say how big that revenue stream might realistically be.

over 6 years ago

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Campr

It's an interesting experiment and by releasing it as a Wordpress plugin it lowers the barriers to publishers who aren't techny enough to play with the API. 

We've used it already on Campr (see latest post), just an experiment but interesting to see it in action.

over 6 years ago

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David

I like it, they are being smarter about it and making it easier as they probably have a fairly good idea about how much is stolen or scrapped on a daily basis.  It seems smarter to allow people to use it while they can monetize their own content via their own syndication network that they can control.

The only problems I could see if the Guardian are using Google Adsense as with the blog owner only a maximum of 3 ad units can be displayed, so will they potentially lose out a percentage of revenue?

Its also a smart SEO strategy but that's another topic for another blog....

over 6 years ago

Ed Stivala

Ed Stivala, Managing Director at n3w media

I agree that its an interesting experiment. On the face of it I can't see how the numbers will add up to make this worthwhile commercially and IMO all they have done is cheapened and devalued their content (I appreciate many will disagree with me on that - but still...). 

Perhaps the real "value" in this for The Guardian is the brand statement that it makes. And of course with the recent news international move they are making it at a very timely moment. If that is the case then the associated adverts really are a bit of a red herring. Maybe it is more important for them to be seen as supporting "open" and "free". Perhaps this just re-enforces their political / industry stance. 

Great post Patricio and a fascinating experiment 

over 6 years ago

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Arileo

Perhaps the real "value" in this for The Guardian is the brand statement that it makes. And of course with the recent news international move they are making it at a very timely momen

over 6 years ago

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