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Half of Google News Users Browse But Don't Click 237

Posted by timothy
from the just-browsing-thanks dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from the International Business Times: "Nearly half of the users of Google News skim the headlines at the news aggregator site without clicking through to the publisher, according to new research. ... Outsell analyst Ken Doctor said in a statement that 'among the aggregators, Google's effect on the newspaper industry is particularly striking.' 'Though Google is driving some traffic to newspapers, it's also taking a significant share away," Doctor said. 'A full 44 percent of visitors to Google News scan headlines without accessing newspapers' individual sites.' ... With a number of US newspaper owners considering charging online, Outlook found that only 10 percent of those surveyed would be willing to pay for a print newspaper subscription to gain online access."
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Half of Google News Users Browse But Don't Click

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  • by plover (150551) * on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:21PM (#30839622) Homepage Journal

    So the newspapers are finally realizing what Slashdotters have known for 10 years -- nobody RTFAs.

    My guess is that the newspapers that switch to a "pay model" are going to try to provide an aggregator feed that their editors will fill only with teaser headlines: "The Massachusetts Election" instead of "Brown Wins in Massachusetts." We'll see how that flies when the aggregators continue to display free news sources, such as NPR headlines.

    By the way, for the rest of you who never RTFA, the summary above really contains all the useful information in TFA. There isn't a need to click through in this case.

    • by Zarf (5735)

      By the way, for the rest of you who never RTFA, the summary above really contains all the useful information in TFA. There isn't a need to click through in this case.

      So this proves that !RTFA is a viable and profitable strategy. Why criticize?

    • by BobMcD (601576) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:26PM (#30839682)

      By the way, for the rest of you who never RTFA, the summary above really contains all the useful information in TFA. There isn't a need to click through in this case.

      This alone is the reason people don't click through. The Fine Articles are often overstuffed piles of crap that are best condensed into a single cut-and-paste-able paragraph. After a certain number of wasted clicks, people become conditioned to only click when they really, really want to know more AND believe that the source in question is going to deliver more.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by plover (150551) *

        Actually, I only click-thru for the comments.

        (For those of you too young to get the joke, it was originally said by a comedian who claimed to read Playboy only for the articles.)

        • by JustOK (667959)

          And as further help, the parent describes that their comment was actually a joke. (Parenthesis are used to mark where the description begins and ends, like I'm doing right here and right now) --see?

          Also, on a more metaphysical level, the parent is also suggesting that all content online is pornography. HTH

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            Haven't you ever heard of infoporn [urbandictionary.com]?

            ---- ADVERTISEMENT ---
            Get your infoporn NOW by reading Wired!!! [wired.com]
            --- ADVERTISEMENT ---

            That's what those articles, stuff with ads and "Prev | 1 2 3 4 | Next | Last" links displayed are all about! I could go on an on about infoporn, but that, in itself, would be infoporn, right?

        • by genner (694963)

          Actually, I only click-thru for the comments.

          (For those of you too young to get the joke, it was originally said by a comedian who claimed to read Playboy only for the articles.)

          Why else would you read Playboy?

        • by JackieBrown (987087) <dbroome@gmail.com> on Thursday January 21, 2010 @07:52AM (#30844386)

          I am glad you mentioned it was a joke because I would not have guess it was since I actually do that (click-thru for the comments.)

          The comments are (like here) usually more informative than the article. And for political articles, it proves a nice temperature check to the mindset of my peers.

      • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @08:37PM (#30840548)

        What if they have two sources: one that costs money to read, and one that doesn't? How much extra trust does someone have to have in the news source to actually pay money to read the entire thing? In other words - how much would Fox News have to charge before a conservative reader decides that he's better off reading the NPR article?

        I think we're going to have a very interesting shake-up coming in the world of news organizations. My belief is that if they stick to news as entertainment, they're going to be eaten alive by free, ad-supported blogs. Their only chance is in 60 Minutes style in-depth reporting on a topic. Note: this is not a comment on how trustworthy 60 minutes is, but merely on its format and marketing message.

        • by SpaceLifeForm (228190) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @01:12AM (#30842522)

          You mean, like the media used to do?

          Carried over multiple days?

          The NYTimes is being money squeezed by the darkside.
          All of the traditional news media is being squeezed.

          The darkside does not want in-depth investigative reporting.

          They want fluff.

          They want mis-informed, dis-informed, and un-informed
          readers, because the readers are the public, the same
          public that can stop their attacks on the readers freedom.

          Oh look! Britney Spears!

          Fucking gag me with a spoon.

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        Exactly right. It's not that often that I see an article I really want to carefully read the full text of; most of the time I just end up skimming stuff because it's not hard to open a bunch of articles in separate tabs, then skim and close each one. Off the top of my head, it seems like only astronomy or astrophysics-type articles are the ones I read carefully. Most "news" stories just aren't very interesting, and even if they might be interesting, the "journalists" do such a crummy job of writing and r

        • by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @10:51PM (#30841586) Homepage
          The whole "research" falls into the "well duh" category. If I pick up a paper copy of a newspaper, I skim the headlines till I find an article that is interesting to me, and then read it. If I go to my local paper's website, I skim the headlines till I find an article that is interesting to me, and then read it. If I go to google news, you guessed, I skim the headlines and only read the ones interesting to me. Given how much boring news is out there, I'm actually surprised that half the people actually find something worth reading.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TheKidWho (705796)

        This is one of the problems with America these days, people just want sound bites and could care less about facts surrounding a situation.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by smisle (1640863)

          This is one of the problems with America these days, people just want sound bites and could care less about facts surrounding a situation.

          sure - but it's unlikely that you'll get relevant facts out of your average newspaper. -- which is why I hardly ever click to read the actual article - most newspaper journalists either can't write, or don't know what they are talking about. I only click one out of every 10 slashdot stories ... that's only 10% - and I actually care about the topics.

      • by Firehed (942385) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @11:38PM (#30841852) Homepage

        That's no different than reading the paper. You scan the titles and spend time on the few articles that seem worth reading or pique your interest. This just changes the front page into something that more resembles a table of contents.

        Papers can complain that these indexing services are taking half of their traffic. In reality, far fewer people would go to their site specifically to scan for those same headlines. Half of all aggregator readers clicking through to a story seems astonishingly high - I'd have expected closer to 10-20%

    • Those on Google aren't even reading article summaries, just headlines. I'm seeing a whole new trend in journalism. Just post one sentence, unsubstantiated statements and you have news! Hurrah!

      Wait, what's that you say? This is already going on? It's called Twitter? I guess I'll have to check it out.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ls671 (1122017) *

      > So the newspapers are finally realizing what Slashdotters have known for 10 years -- nobody RTFA

      The only problems with this if that, like on Slashdot, the titles are sometimes misleading. It occurred to me several times that I found points in the article that contradicted the newspaper title ;-)

      In newspapers, the title is often chosen by another person than the writer, mostly for marketing reasons I would assume.

      So in the end, we end up with people being misinformed on some topics ;-(

      At least /. got a

    • by goldaryn (834427) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:30PM (#30839728) Homepage

      So the newspapers are finally realizing what Slashdotters have known for 10 years -- nobody RTFAs.

      Um, ever hear of a little thing called the Slashdot effect? Post your website URL, let's see if we'll read it :-D

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by digitig (1056110)

        So the newspapers are finally realizing what Slashdotters have known for 10 years -- nobody RTFAs.

        Um, ever hear of a little thing called the Slashdot effect? Post your website URL, let's see if we'll read it :-D

        Oh, we click on them, sure, but we don't read them.

    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      By the way, for the rest of you who never RTFA, the summary above really contains all the useful information in TFA. There isn't a need to click through in this case.

      *suspicious glare*

      How'd you figure that out?

    • A bit of data to add to all the correlations they are trying to do.

      My interests include much of the world. I find things in Bangladesh as interesting as happenings in MessyTwoShits. But, worldwide, there are so MANY things happening, I can't even dream of keeping up with everything.

      There are only 24 hours in a day - and I can't spend all of them reading news.

      I scan headlines, choose the MOST interesting, and click those. When I've actually read somewhere between 6 and 30 articles. I've got tend to my own

    • My guess is that the newspapers that switch to a "pay model" are going to try...

      Well to me this raises a bunch of other potential problems for the for-pay newspaper market. What are the chances that you can get people to pay for the ability to read your articles if they're not even willing to read them when they're free? People can get "Brown wins in Massachusetts" for free-- you can't copyright that information. If people don't want to RTFA, then the newspapers don't have a business. There's no way around it.

    • by jrumney (197329)

      We'll see how that flies when the aggregators continue to display free news sources, such as NPR headlines.

      As someone who does occasionally click through to RTFA (on google, not slashdot), I've noticed recently that FT.com articles are getting pushed to the top more often than they used to, despite their new policy of one free article per month.

  • Outsell Not Outlook (Score:4, Informative)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:26PM (#30839684) Journal

    Outlook found that only 10 percent of those surveyed would be willing to pay for a print newspaper subscription to gain online access.

    The article says the same thing but what they probably messed up is that it's Outsell not Outlook:

    With a number of US newspaper owners considering charging online, Outlook found that only 10 percent of those surveyed would be willing to pay for a print newspaper subscription to gain online access.

    For its annual News Users' survey, Outsell asked 2,787 US news consumers in July about their online and offline news preferences. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus three percent.

    Outsell found that 57 percent of news users looking for "news right now" go to digital sources, up from 33 percent a few years ago.

    I'm guessing that was a spell checking/slip up. Not to be blamed on the submitter or slashdot editors but instead the IB Times.

  • Kind of like... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Antony-Kyre (807195) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:26PM (#30839694)

    how many people read or skin the slashdot summary, but don't read the article?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:27PM (#30839696)

    In other news, 99% of people read the headlines off newspapers in vending machines and in checkout lanes but don't buy the paper.

    • That's the blatantly obvious parallel in print media. I can't understand why anybody would think this is surprising or remarkable in any way.

    • by canajin56 (660655)
      That's a bad analogy, because in the checkout lane you can read most of the article without having to pick up the paper, but on Google you have to click through.
  • by strangeattraction (1058568) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:27PM (#30839702)
    So now the real return on advertising is known. 50% sounds rather good to me.
    • by D'Sphitz (699604) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:31PM (#30839742) Journal
      My thoughts exactly, what are they trying to argue, that 50% click through rate is bad? Come on that's phenomenal!
      • by ari_j (90255)
        That will go down substantially if they start charging or manage to opt-out of being aggregated. I for one have only ever read articles printed by Detroit Free Press, Baltimore Sun, the Huffington Post, and others because they are aggregated by Google and free for me to view online. That says nothing to the smaller operations that I definitely wouldn't pay to see aggregated.
  • That's funny... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:31PM (#30839748) Homepage

    Because if I was going to unscientifically guess at the number of times I go to Google News and don't see any headlines that garner my interest enough to click, ~50% would have been it. This value would be lower when exciting news is breaking, and higher when it's just more of the same BS about whatever is occupying the current news cycle magnifying glass. "Tiger Woods also revealed to have bunions!"

    What's next? "44% of people scan front page headlines of newspaper in newspaper vending machine without making a purchase, clearly indicating that Seven Eleven is stealing revenue from the newspapers." Noooooo, Seven Eleven is making their product more readily available, and if people aren't interested enough to buy it, whose fault is that?

    • by Kjella (173770)

      What's next? "44% of people scan front page headlines of newspaper in newspaper vending machine without making a purchase, clearly indicating that Seven Eleven is stealing revenue from the newspapers."

      Exactly. I think newspapers were selling on the album model, before the internet you bought it just in case there was any interesting news. Now that there's a track = article model like with music, and people just aren't interested in 90% of what's in it, In any case, I'd love to see them try eradicating free news. The only thing that'll do is kill those who try so maybe the reminder can survive on the concentrated ad revenue.

    • if I was going to unscientifically guess at the number of times I go to Google News and don't see any headlines that garner my interest enough to click, ~50% would have been it

      My sentiments exactly. But I'd also like to comment that usually the headline plus the two-sentence blurb tell me as much as the entire story. So rarely is the actual article a 'trove' of information, that my habits have been trained to [i]not[/i] read the article.

    • Because if I was going to unscientifically guess at the number of times I go to Google News and don't see any headlines that garner my interest enough to click, ~50% would have been it.

      The question is, then, how many users do you count as? The article seems to claim that 50% of users just don't actually read any articles. Presumably the remaining 50% don't read every article but read articles sometimes. So if you visit Google News multiple times and 50% of the time don't read any articles, do you count as a single visitor who reads articles sometimes, or does each visit count you as a "user" and some of those users never read articles?

      Ah, who knows? Lies, damned lies, and statistics.

    • by millette (56354)
      Another thing is if you visit google news a few times a day, the chance of a new story popping up is quite slim. That would explain a big chunk of that percentage too.
    • Tiger Woods has bunions? Why wasn't I informed about this!

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:32PM (#30839756)

    Make them worth my time and I will click through and read them. That's essentially the problem. Let's take a look at the current international news: "New quake in Haiti." Ok. Whatever. "Obama signals he's ready to compromise on reforms." I already knew that and I might read it when we have a compromise, 'til then it's hot air. "Killing spree murderer in Virginia turns himself in." Don't care. "Geert Wilders in court." Don't care about a right wing asshole in Holland either. "Obama's first year" wake me when it's been his third, 'til then I can't do jack about it anyway (not that I could anything either then 'cause, well, I can't vote in the US). "Weapon lobbyist's testimonial threatening CSU" Duh. Who'd have though... Not interesting enough to click, though. "Italy's senate passing 'Lex Berlusconi'" He got promoted from King to God? He gets his way in Italy any way he pleases, how is this news? "Poland puts Patriot missiles to Russian border" Ok, that might be interesting enough to actually read it.

    So, after reading all the "news", only one story was actually interesting enough (and could have some sort of impact on me) that it's something I might read. Everything else is either drivel, opinion or just plain pointless.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cetialphav (246516)

      When covering daily news, there is only so much the papers can do. The impact on the Massachusetts Senate election on the health care bill, Haiti, and the Virginia shooting really are the big stories of the day. The problem isn't the theme of the stories; it is that most articles are puff pieces that provide little additional information above what is in the headline. They throw in a few predictable quotes from the press conference and call it a story. There is no depth or investigation or significant b

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Opportunist (166417)

        I agree fully.

        I don't just want to know what happened. I want to know why it happened and what impact it will have. Just dropping a fact on your head it meaningless if you don't get the information how this came into existance and what context to put it in. Mas Senate election has an impact on the health care bill. How? Why? Were they elected because of that impact? Is it some sort of side effect? That's what I'd be interested in.

        What bothers me is that most newspapers today are some sort of Reader's Digens

  • Bullshit. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ChaosDiscord (4913) * on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:34PM (#30839780) Homepage Journal
    This is a phenomenally stupid article.

    The findings give further ammunition to publishers who insist that Google and other news aggregators are linking to their stories without paying any advertising revenue.

    You don't need ammunition to support painfully obvious facts. yes, Google and other news aggregators link to stories without paying any advertising revenue. Brilliant sleuthing Sherlock.

    Relatedly, if they hate having Google do so, it's trivially easy to get off the page. Why don't they? Because for all their whining, they know that Google does drive traffic to them. "I don't have a business model, and you do," isn't a valid reason to ask for Google's money.

    "Though Google is driving some traffic to newspapers, it's also taking a significant share away," Doctor said. "A full 44 percent of visitors to Google News scan headlines without accessing newspapers' individual sites."

    Those two sentences have absolutely nothing to do with each other, despite Doctor's and the article's author's implication that they do. What really matters is, what portion of those 56% visitors would not have visited the news site in the absence of Google News. I'm guessing the answer is less. New result: Google is a net win for news sites.

    ...only 10 percent of those surveyed would be willing to pay for a print newspaper subscription to gain online access.

    In related news, almost no one is willing to pay for a DVD to gain online access to the movie. If I wanted to read the physical edition, I'd subscribe to that. If I want to read the online edition, asking to subscribe to the physical edition is insane. At my last apartment I got the Sunday paper for free. I did get some small amount of value from it, but I ultimately specifically requested to not get it because it wasn't worth the hassle to throw it away.

    The effect of aggregators have been particularly challenging for the media industry, particularly among the recent downturn of advertising revenue.

    The article has shown nothing of the sort. It's entirely possible that in the absence of Google News that total news consumption would drop.

    • Relatedly, if they hate having Google do so, it's trivially easy to get off the page. Why don't they? Because for all their whining, they know that Google does drive traffic to them. "I don't have a business model, and you do," isn't a valid reason to ask for Google's money.

      Google has drawn away direct traffic to these news sites into their own service. I don't believe its so much "hey, thanks for the traffic!" as "Well, a little bit is better than nothing..". Removing yourself from what has become your only option is not helpful when it just hurts you. Of course, we're both playing on opinions here since there is no evidence either way.

      "Though Google is driving some traffic to newspapers, it's also taking a significant share away," Doctor said. "A full 44 percent of visitors to Google News scan headlines without accessing newspapers' individual sites."

      Those two sentences have absolutely nothing to do with each other, despite Doctor's and the article's author's implication that they do. What really matters is, what portion of those 56% visitors would not have visited the news site in the absence of Google News. I'm guessing the answer is less. New result: Google is a net win for news sites.

      The implication is that if the users were not skimming Google News' headlines, they would instead be skimming them on the content provider's s

      • The implication is that if the users were not skimming Google News' headlines, they would instead be skimming them on the content provider's site, and whether or not they actually found an article of interest, the provider would end up with the view and the ad dollar.

        The funny thing is that they are dead wrong in this. There is no way I would regularly browse the websites of my local news sources. Why? They are crappy sites. They throw popups at me and have these silly flashy animating ads that are of no interest to me. Why would I subject myself to that? Google provides an excellent alternative to that horrid experience. Without Google (or some other reasonable news aggregator), I would just go without those sources. I can do that because there are plenty of pl

  • by ruiner13 (527499) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:34PM (#30839784) Homepage
    Maybe if you actually wrote your own content and didn't rely on the AP wire to write your headlines & stories for you, people would see your UNIQUE headline and article and click in to read your news instead of the 700 other versions of the exact same content? All Google has really done to hurt your business model is expose how much of your precious content is just AP regurgitated schlock. People have realized that there is no reason to go to one site or the other, since they're all the same. With that being the case, you might as well just click on the one that looks like it would have the least offensive presentation, and frankly, all of your flash ad laden pages and pop-ups just don't have that appeal.
    • I can't count the number of times I've tried checking various news sites for information on a current story, only to find that they're all copy/pasted AP content that doesn't tell me nearly enough of what I want to know. If more sites actually created their own content, I might be more willing to read them.

      Also, unless every newspaper decides to go to an online-subscription model, I don't think it will work out. The newspapers that still provide their news for "free" will get all of the visits, and thus, t
  • Not Interested (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Migraineman (632203) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:34PM (#30839792)
    Okay, lesse here ...

    Entertainment News, nope, couldn't care less [scrolls]

    Sports News, nope, couldn't care less [scrolls]

    Random Feel-Good Stories, nope, couldn't care less [scrolls]

    Domestic News, government officials are still corrupt, stock market is still iffy, another auto maker is filing Chapter Whatever, [scrolls]

    International News, emergency relief in Haiti still ongoing, continued tribal disputes in the Middle East, China still has internal issues

    Okay, so it's the same crap as yesterday, and the day before that. I'm a bad person because I don't want to re-read a story regurgitated from several days ago? And the news outlets are upset that the recycled content isn't generating revenue?
    • It's a great time to be the next Nostradamus, though. I'm fairly sure I can make a few predictions that will come true. And I will even be more accurate and to the point than old Nossy ever was!

      Here's my predictions for 2010. Bookmark it in case you want to find out if they come true.

      Something will emerge that shows how some three letter agency abused anti terror laws to break constitutional rights.
      The economy declines more and more and even the bailouts won't save anyone, actually, they make matters worse.

    • When I go to an actual newspaper's website, I click FAR fewer links than 50% of those available to me. Does this mean the newspaper is taking a significant share away from itself?

      No ... clearly the FA is talking 'bollocks'.

  • by terraformer (617565) <tpb@pervici.com> on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:35PM (#30839798) Journal

    This has been a long time coming. The key to survival will be those papers who know how to adapt. The WSJ has adapted under one model successfully. The NYT will fail if they pick up the WSJ model, though some similarities may work. What will end up happening is sites that provide free news will be doing it as a loss leader for other content. That news though will be vapid and likely filled with advertising bias and other impurities. Those behind larger pay walls like the NYT, Salon, etc will find limited niche markets of those wanting more substance in their news reporting.

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      That news though will be vapid and likely filled with advertising bias and other impurities.

      Like a newspaper, in other words?

    • by cdrguru (88047)

      The problem is that newspapers have had a lock on their content for a long time and this content has been of sufficient value to support the entire organization. They deliver readers to advertisers and the advertisers pay.

      One problem today is the advertising budget is spread over many different local venues, the newspaper being only one. Also, the value of the ads in a newspaper is much less than is used to be.

      The idea that news could be a loss leader for other content is interesting, but the problem is t

  • by EEBaum (520514) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:35PM (#30839804) Homepage
    A huge portion of newspaper articles (though not as large as the portion of television news segments) are fluff, not worth reading. If you can get all the information you need from the headline, maybe the article wasn't much worth writing anyways.

    Maybe if newspapers were to write more articles exposing the horrendous fustercluckery going on locally and abroad, making meaningful commentary on artistic endeavors, giving relevant information on local events, etc. rather than living off press releases, whitewashed statements from politicians, and reprinting AP/Reuters feeds, people might be more inclined to read them.

    Hell, one somewhat respected (though less so lately) newspaper in my area reserves the back page of its front section for photographs of its readers holding up a copy of their paper while on vacation. Every day.

    The very fact that The Family Circus is still in print is a testament to the utter incompetence and out-of-touchery of newspapers.
    • The very fact that The Family Circus is still in print is a testament to the utter incompetence and out-of-touchery of newspapers.

      Either that or, truly, the end times are upon us and Little Billy is the Antichrist.

    • by pongo000 (97357)

      A huge portion of newspaper articles (though not as large as the portion of television news segments) are fluff, not worth reading. If you can get all the information you need from the headline, maybe the article wasn't much worth writing anyways.

      [Citation needed]

      As for the last part of what you wrote: Ever consider that the decline in human attention span [wikipedia.org] and the commoditization of news media might account for what you wryly observe as "get[ting] all the information you need from the headline"? And you wo

      • by EEBaum (520514)

        [Citation needed]

        Click on some of the links here, then read the articles. [google.com] Seems to be about 50/50.

        As for the last part of what you wrote: Ever consider that the decline in human attention span and the commoditization of news media might account for what you wryly observe as "get[ting] all the information you need from the headline"? And you would suggest that this is a good thing?

        They are related, but different. I get all the information from a headline when the story has very little news to offer. Visiting Google News, some examples from the first page, and my reactions in parens:

        • Fewer Americans think Obama has advanced race relations, poll shows (fluff)
        • ATTACK ON FLIGHT 253 Accountability sought at terror hearings (more finger-pointing rather that addressing the real issue)
        • Photos Purport to Show
  • ... a lot of times I don't find what I'm looking for.

    I can't speak for everyone else who uses Google News, but a lot of the time that I go there it's because I'm looking for a particular story. A lot of the time I can't find it or it's probably too recent for the story to make its way through the cycle to end up referenced at Google. If that's the case, I don't click on anything, and I'll come back later or find the article through some other means.

    Just because someone doesn't click through it doesn

    • by dangitman (862676)
      I agree. The problem is two-fold. Firstly, the news sources are shit, they aren't writing interesting and relevant articles. This is compounded by the fact that Google's search results are shit. Back in the day, we flocked to Google because the search results were superior. But today, that just isn't true. A typical Google search today often has link-farm spammers in the top results, and for News search, often has insane wing-tard blogs right up there in the top results alongside serious sources.
  • Wait a minute (Score:5, Insightful)

    by selven (1556643) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:36PM (#30839808)

    So Google News, which is stealing content from other news sites without payment or permission, is actually sending half of its readers to the sites themselves? This will probably get modded redundant, but Murdoch is an idiot.

  • Not that bad (Score:3, Insightful)

    by daveime (1253762) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:36PM (#30839818)

    I know of a lot of advertisers who would kill for a 44% clickthru rate ... hell, I know a lot of advertisers who would kill for a 1/10th of that clickthru.

    Fine, if newspapers are finally waking up to the 21st century, and wish to put content behind a paywall, then they should go for it. And Google should send them a huge bill every month for referrals to paid content.

    In fact, if Google did this for all paywall sites, maybe there'd be less useless crap in the results. Tired of seeing search results for pages that when you clickthru to them, turn out to be behind a paywall / login page.

    Isn't this cheating anyway, presenting one version of the page to Googlebots, but putting a wall in place for regular users ?

  • I think Google News (Score:4, Interesting)

    by amRadioHed (463061) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:37PM (#30839822)

    may hurt some of the big sites but most sites are probably helped out. I visit the CNN homepage less since Google News came out, but there are dozens of other sites that I've visited that would never have heard of if they didn't show up on Google News.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417)

      And that's exactly the reason why CNN, Fox News and other big news networks are so heavily against it. It's threatening their opinion monopoly.

  • GASP! (Score:3, Funny)

    by ryanisflyboy (202507) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:40PM (#30839876) Homepage Journal

    You mean to tell me that 44 percent of visitors to Google News aren't actually interested in the listed headlines, and therefore don't click through!? Let me put this to the test...

    "Democrats see Mass. message: Jobs, jobs, jobs" - boring, pass.
    "Alternate supply routes could open Haiti aid bottleneck" - just got all info I needed.
    "Americans See Economic Recovery a Long Way Off" - no duh.
    "Airstrikes Target al-Qaida in Yemen" - woot, bombs, but I'll pass.
    "Netanyahu turns fire on Abbas as US envoy flies in" - whattahootey?
    "Powers 'shifting to sanctions' in dealing with Iran" - invasion timer started.
    "Intel chief concedes errors in Christmas bomb case" - and?
    "Michelle Obama to launch initiative fighting child obesity" - by dressing fashionably?
    "Alleged dinner crashers invoke Fifth Amendment" - reality TV series coming to NBC in spring.

    Didn't click on anything, until I got to my custom filter:
    "Twisted Physics: Scientists Create Knots of Light" - Oh wait, this is from fox news. Never mind.

  • I'm actually astounded 50% of people would click through anything. The fact the conversion rate is that high means that the news sties would be insane to cut out Google.

  • by Vexorian (959249) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:53PM (#30840066)
    So, assuming the stats are all right, the conclussion is... well bullshit?. So, in fact google news users click HALF of the links they find... That's a lot of traffic. Since google news tends to show the same news multiple times. And since some news sites are not worth clicking. And since many users probably did not find the news they were looking for... 50% is actually a huge number.
  • by Black Sabbath (118110) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:55PM (#30840078) Homepage

    If for some inexplicable reason, the news industry starts going insane and declares that they are putting up pay-walls everywhere, then Google could head 'em off at the pass by agreeing to split their advertising revenue from news.google.com to the publishers whose article blurb's are shown for a given page view. Of course, the assumption here is that news publishers could be made profitable with just a bit more advertising revenue. If they are out by an order of magnitude, then this "solution" won't save them either.

    As an aside, I'm a keen Google news lurker, however I will sometimes click on a link belonging to a news publisher other than the main one whose article blurb is shown. That's because I choose to boycott certain publishers. I'm not sure if gNews is adaptive or not (I read while logged in) however so far it doesn't seem like it.

    • No, what google should do is charge them to be included in the listing. They don't have to be mean about it either. If it's behind a pay wall, then they just don't spider it unless the owner specifically requests to be added, which, for a fee, is always possible.

      The question of just who is trying to eat who's lunch would be solved pretty quickly I should think.

  • Though Google is driving some traffic to newspapers, it's also taking a significant share away

    Newspapers don't own traffic, so nothing is being taken. Google is providing a competing product that half of users prefer to that the newspaper provides. Newspapers can easily provide a robots.txt which instructs Google to remove them from their news pages, if they think they would be better off that way.

    • by cdrguru (88047)

      The benefit Google is deriving is that they get the content for free and post it. Now they may not be posting all of the content - although in some cases they do. Even with the limited snippet they show on search pages, this is seeming to satisfy 50% of the potential readers.

      Now, if all news sources were to take the action of blocking Google there might be a point to using robots.txt to do so. However if only 99% of news sources were to do so it would be a pointless and futile exercise that would result

  • by fermion (181285) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:57PM (#30840114) Homepage Journal
    In the olden days headlines were written to attract potential buyers to newspapers. Believe it or not, above the fold headlines and content were given away for free! People were allowed to crouch next to newpaper dispensers or sometimesnewstands and steal several paragraphs of entire articles.

    Depending on the headlines and the news day, some of these thief's might come around and buy a newspaper(here is another amazing thing, once you put your money in, you could take as many as you wanted!).

    This is no different. In many ways it is better. Instead of seeing only the above-the-fold headlines, users can see many headlines which may increase the chance that the user will 'buy a newspaper', in this case view the ads. The newspaper no longer has to deliver the physical product, procure space to market the product, and deal with broken machines. Furthermore,the user does not get to read more than a few sentences of content. All those costs are handled by the news aggregator.

    Of course, if your headlines are crap, no one will buy. And, of course,there are many more headlines to write as each article must sell itself. More work for those that are willing to do the work to reach readers.

  • wtf? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mirix (1649853) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:59PM (#30840142)
    So.. I go to google news, search "hamburger".
    I find all the summaries boring, except an article about the hamburger festival in Abkhazia, which is what I was *actually* looking for. I then proceed to click on that article.

    I had no intention of reading the other articles, I wasn't looking for them, so why would it be expected that I click on them?
  • by dogeatery (1305399) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @08:14PM (#30840294)

    First off, that 50% is a fantastic click-thru rate, though I'm sure they'll find a way to make the glass half empty.

    There are so many great comments here that collectively sum up the news industry, especially reliance on AP and every paper having essentially the same content. However, I'm surprised that no slash-dotters have mentioned the obvious fact of many "articles" simply being paid ads. I'm sure many Americans are aware of this.

    Last summer I attended the Mayborn Literary Non-Fiction Conference in Dallas (and hosted by my alma mater, UNT) and had my suspicions confirmed by fashion "reporter" Joy Sewing of the Houston Chronicle. In a presentation which essentially boiled down to a defense of her paper's increased emphasis on fluffy content, she let the truth come out with the following quote about fashion top-ten and gift lists: "If Macy's buys an ad in my paper, then guess what? Macy's is in my article."

    Since hearing Ms. Sewing's admission, I've made it my personal goal to quote her to the world -- please pass it on! People like her are willingly turning journalism into a farce, even as they admit to knowing better. Shrugging shoulders and saying it's "Nature of the business" is saying you don't care about quality as long as you're getting paid. It also makes it more difficult for people like me to get work.

  • I also scan the headlines of the local newsrag in the newspaper machine before going into a restaurant. Haven't paid for one of those in the past decade either.

  • When Yahoo and Google started giving click-thru data for advertising, as opposed to page impressions, advertisers were shocked that viewers ignored most of their ads. When Tivo starting giving viewing statistics to the networks they were shocked at how ineffective their ads were. Are newspapers only now learning that there's a huge difference between seeing a headline (an ad) and actually paying attention to it? Seriously?

  • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @08:29PM (#30840468)

    Google is on record pretty much saying, "live with it or add a simple header to your stuff so we ignore you." It couldn't be more straightforward.

    Rupert Murdoch has a pretty impressive media empire, and he's whining about Google News, but even he doesn't have the balls to add the header, because so many of his readers find his content through Google News. He's trying to get a coalition of major publishers to all pull out simultaneously, so that Google News loses most of its content and the users go away. I just don't see that working though. The absence of Murdoch material would hardly be noticeable on Google, and suddenly his competitors would be getting all the Google clicks while Murdoch gets none. That's not just less revenue. That's a real downgrade in relevance of his media empire as an opinion setter. Google is here to stay.

    One thing I expect them to try: The linked articles will only be article-teasers, which all end with "to continue reading this article, please log in and make [some micropayment]." At that point, people like me would just use the mouse gesture for "back" and learn to not click on links to that source, scouring the other related links to get the same information without a paywall. But in the short term, that kind of move might generate a bit of revenue.

    So like others have said, the present arrangement is as good as it's going to get for the article-producing media online.

  • by A nonymous Coward (7548) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @08:32PM (#30840488)

    People skim magazine covers at a newsstand or the grocery store checkout, and the publishers must know this or they wouldn't put enticing headlines on the cover.

    People look at the headlines in newspaper racks, that's why the newspaper put those headlines there.

    And guess what? There's even a newspaper-specific piece of jargon for this: Above The Fold [wikipedia.org].

    Do these modern day publishers have any institutional knowledge? It looks like NOT.

    • by canajin56 (660655)
      If a blatantly misleading headline tricks you into buying a paper, you've just bought dozens of articles, plus added another reader to increase the asking price for all those ads it's jammed full of. If you click through a link, you've viewed one article, and viewed 1-2 ads per page of that article (that is, 1-2 per paragraph, soon per sentence!) Beyond that, they also want you viewing ads on their list of headlines, and they want you viewing ads on the 80 intervening pages between when you click the head
  • News Worth Reading? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by peterofoz (1038508) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @08:38PM (#30840552) Homepage Journal
    Yup, i too am a frequent scanner of news article teasers and headlines and don't click through because, frankly, they don't interest me or I've already read them. I also drive down the street past 1000's of store fronts, advertising banners and billboards and don't often stop to buy stuff. I see 1000's of web adverts every day and don't click on those either (or very rarely). I would tell you what I'd like to read, exactly, except I don't often know myself until the fancy strikes me. And it changes from day to day. So keep spamming the news headlines out there and hope to catch a few readers with what they need when they need it.
  • In other news, users of Google News click through to the aggregated news outlets an outstanding 50% of the time. It is estimated that this brings more traffic to these outlets than any other single website.

  • by pslam (97660) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @08:57PM (#30840756) Homepage Journal
    Simply invert the statistic and state what this new portion represents (usually the opposite). In this case:
    • A full 44 percent of visitors to Google News scan headlines without accessing newspapers' individual sites

    ... turns into:

    • A full 56 percent of visitors to Google News scan headlines and access newspapers' individual sites

    Wow, doesn't that sound better? Not only that, but it makes the next step easily seen: how many people scan Google News? What's 55% of that number? How many clicks is that? Isn't that a gigantic portion of a news site's revenue?

    But hey, the stat sounds much more evil when you say it the other way around.

  • RTFA? (Score:4, Funny)

    by greymond (539980) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @09:02PM (#30840788) Homepage Journal

    Why would anyone Read The Fucking Article when the heading and introduction/opening paragraph give us everything we need to know...

    Here is an example from a real headline...

    Michael Jackson's Giraffes Murdered?
    (RTTNews) - Bizarre events surrounding the late Michael Jackson's continue to unfold, this time with the death of two giraffes that once lived at the King of Pop's Neverland Ranch.

    Ok so by seeing this on my RSS reader I now know that Michael Jackson's Giraffes were indeed murdered and that cops are still incompetent and much like myself don't really care enough to delve deeper into this topic. On the other hand if the news blurb had come across my reader as "Michael Jack's Giraffe Murderer Found - The Giraffes were killed as part of an illegal Giraffe fighting operation ran by Michael Vick" then I probably would actually take the time to read the article...

    Who knew that people would only click what they're really, really interested in or what sounds really really crazy? Anyone for watching the "Sanctity of Marriage" oh I mean "The Bachelor"...

  • Google, in light of these statements, I'd like to make a feature suggestion. I already have an account to log in, preferences to set on which articles I want to see and where they are displayed at for the page.

    For the love of god, please, please give me the ability to filter out articles by news organization.

    Nothing makes me madder then to click to nytimes.com, read half of a 2 page article, and then be required to register and sign up for an account to read the second half of my story. Half the time, the s

  • Condensed Info (Score:3, Interesting)

    by theJML (911853) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @09:28PM (#30840996) Homepage

    I honestly would pay a few dollars a month to have full stores that were JUST a concise listing of pertinent info with no ads or fluff. So many sites today have the article in a thin column down the middle of the page, somehow stretch things out to multiple pages and have nothing but ads on the right and links on the left. And to make it worse, are formatted with screens stuck in the late 90's at 800px wide. There's no wonder people won't click through to them.

    Personally I find that a story can be summed up in 100-250 characters and be just as useful 90% of the time. Sure there are cases that more info might be intersting, and links could be given to that effect (like a link to the actual study for instance), but when I'm reading news I'd like more than the short summaries on Google News or RSS feed titles, but less than the full, fluff laden articles. I don't care what Joe Blow on the street thinks. I don't care what other reporters say. In fact, I don't even want opinions most of the time, I just want the story, short and sweet. Title: "Is Apple working on ____?" Article: "Yes, but we don't have any details." Nuff Said.

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