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German Publishers Back Down Over Google Snippet Removals

     
5:21 pm on Oct 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The German publishers thought they were negotiating from a position of strength when the wanted Google to pay for use of the snippets. When Google removed the snippets, it seems the publishers have now decided to back down having realised that Google drives a great deal of traffic.

This will now fan the flames over antitrust, imho.

Google’s response, earlier this month, to the legal action was to stop displaying news snippets and images in search results for the German publishers involved in the legal action, with only a link and a headline remaining. That penalizing move appears to have applied enough pressure to force the publishers to back down — and offer what they term revocable ‘free consent’ for Google to use their snippets.

In a press release VG Media said the publishers it represents are being forced to take this step because of the ‘overwhelming market power of Google’. Mountain View commands a more than 90 per cent marketshare of search in Europe.German Publishers Back Down Over Google Snippets [techcrunch.com]


Earlier story
Google Decides to Remove Text Snippets and Thumbnail Images of Some German Newspapers Because of Legal Action [webmasterworld.com]
5:39 pm on Oct 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

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This is funny. Forced to do this BS they see their original position was plain stupid.
6:45 pm on Oct 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Mountain View commands a more than 90 per cent marketshare of search in Europe


More to the point, what percentage of the German news market is controlled by members of VG Media? And at what point does cooperation become collusion?
9:16 pm on Oct 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I bet there is some SEO at the company that has been saying this all along and some higher up (probably a lawyer) that does not get the Internet that forced the situation.

What they did was like complaining that NBC should pay you money because they are using your products in all their TV shows.
10:00 pm on Oct 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Too Funny.

Knew it would happen and I'll bet their bottom line sagged real hard real fast.

This will now fan the flames over antitrust, imho.


How so when we recently learned that a majority of shoppers start at Amazon and NOT Google first?

Have they compared those numbers in the EU we well?

As far as anti-trust goes, I don't see it, it's not like the phone company where you had no choice or MS installed on every desktop.

Google is still a choice, not forced down anyone's throats, other options such as Bing, Yandex, etc. but people CHOOSE to use Google.

The only place where Google messed up is the tight integration of their search into Android, that will be where anti-trust might bite them if it ever happens.

However, the case could also be made that MS has Bing tightly integrated into Win8 phones, and I'm not sure Apple let's you pick where Siri gets her data, etc.

For that matter, should Facebook or Twitter also fall into the realm of anti-trust because of their lock on social media?

Anyway, amusing outcome.
1:45 am on Oct 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

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That penalizing move appears to have applied enough pressure to force the publishers to back down

it was not a penalizing move. google did as they were instructed: remove the snippets or pay the publishers. so they removed the snippets (and kept the headlines which was unobjectionable).

This will now fan the flames over antitrust, imho.

no, antitrust issues would have come up if they had removed the publisher results altogether. google did the single right thing, in fact they had no other option without getting into trouble. obey the law but don't overreact.
2:12 am on Oct 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

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the funny (or annoying in that regard) thing is that this incident results in only one single winner: google.

they now have the exclusive and documented right to display the full snippets. smaller search providers have deleted the serp snippets as legally demanded and don't get the free consent to revert back to the former status - as they are presumably too unimportant in terms of search traffic and only barely affect the bottom line of the publishers.

totally crazy outcome.
2:36 am on Oct 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

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One obvious question is why Germany's largest news publishers rely so heavily on Google News. Google may have "overwhelming market power" in search, but VG Media's members aren't exactly unknown mom-and-pop brands. Why aren't they doing a better job of attracting direct traffic?
7:42 am on Oct 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

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In the case of Amazon, people go straight there without using search. Some people go straight to their favoured news site, and many simply use the Google news search. Clearly, the lack of snippets in Google News caused some issues for the publisher, and we can only speculate.

It's now highlighting the 90% market share and how important it is to any business.
9:56 am on Oct 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Google never actually reduced the links to just the headlines. Google only announced that they would be doing that, from 23 October on, but most of the German publishers in this dispute didn't let it come to this.

The Axel-Springer concern did not give in. They have the Welt newspaper, for instance. It stands out from other German newspapers, in that it limits the number of articles you can read online per month without paying.

One problem here, is that the law that is supposed to regulate this use of snippets, is not clear about what amount of text in snippets is allowed. It doesn't say something like that snippets less than 155 characters or so is allowed. So Google just didn't take the risk of letting a judge decide on whether the amount of text they display would be allowed or not.
10:43 am on Oct 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for clarifying the date, Solution1, I thought it had already been implemented.
11:26 am on Oct 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Be careful in what you ask for as you may get it..
12:05 pm on Oct 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The problem is they are all thinking individually. If all the big papers got together and stood up to google, then I'm sure Google would back down. But of course they are all worrying that they will be the only ones who step forward
2:04 pm on Oct 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The problem is they are all thinking individually. If all the big papers got together and stood up to google, then I'm sure Google would back down.


They weren't "thinking individually," they were acting collectively. (VG Media describes itself as representing "almost all" German media companies.)

And Google did back down until the media companies decided that pyrrhic victories aren't helpful to the bottom line.
10:54 pm on Oct 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

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It's a slow boil of rabbits. Soon, no one will need to visit a website.

A search for "top tourist attractions in (city)" produced results howing a scrolling band of photos across the top of the search results.

Clicked on the image of a museum.

Bam! Google spits out a nice summary (on the far right of the SERPs page) of the museum: address, phone #, hours, directions, reviews, etc. Offers you a chance to submit a review right in the box.

Welcome to the Answer Engine. That's always been the plan. G, not as launch pad to other sites but G as final destination. You want some benefit of all that accumulated info . . that y'all "donated?

Buy an ad.
12:25 am on Oct 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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It's a slow boil of rabbits.

A lovely phrase, and you may well have a valid point to make.

But there could hardly be a worse example to use than a museum.

Address, phone, hours and directions encourage people to visit the establishment.

And only an idiot would write a review before doing so.

As for the image of the building, it is usually the treasures inside that interest people.

If I were the curator I would consider all this to be excellent free advertising.

I would be very happy to donate it.

...
12:59 pm on Oct 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The curator might be but if the info was scraped from a tourist information site then somebody would be most unhappy about their ads not being displayed.
2:09 pm on Oct 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The curator might be but if the info was scraped from a tourist information site then somebody would be most unhappy about their ads not being displayed.


What was the tourist-information site's source of info? Chances are, it got the info by scraping the museum's Web site (whether manually or with an algorithm) or--less likely--by taking it off a press release supplied by the museum.

Also, if the people who run the museum's Web site have any sense, they'll use schema markup to make it easier for Google, Bing, and other sites to identify and display up-to-date data about hours of operation, ticket prices, location, and other data that makes it easier for searchers to visit the museum.
2:58 pm on Oct 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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In a perfect world there wouldn't be any websites at all. We'd just compile all our data into the format that Google likes, and let them display it all for free
4:32 pm on Oct 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Facebook, instead of linking out to your content, now wants to "host" (and monetize) your content?

[nytimes.com ]

Hey, c'mon in. The water's fine. This isn't a "crock"pot. It's a therpeutic whirlpool. Really. You just gotta relax . . and go with it . . it's inevitability.

Rest easy. Rest assured . . and you will rest in peace.
5:49 pm on Oct 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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In a perfect world there wouldn't be any websites at all. We'd just compile all our data into the format that Google likes, and let them display it all for free/


I know you think you're being sarcastic, but for many businesses and organizations, having information displayed directly on a Google or Bing SERP is ideal. Take a 24/7 emergency veterinary clinic: Its customers aren't looking for Web pages to read, they want to know how to reach the clinic when Fido is having convulsions or Fifi needs stitches. If Google SERP for "widgetville emergency vet" has a nice big answer box with the clinic's phone number, address, and driving directions, that's good--not bad.

But we're getting way off topic here. So let's return to the subject of this thread:

The media companies that belong to the VG Media lobbying group are now asking Google to include snippets in its search results. Why? Obviously because they believe that headlines with snippets drive more traffic than headlines alone. If they can get Google to pay for the privilege of sending them traffic, so much the better, but with or without cash subsidies from Google, they want Google to supply headlines and snippets.
6:22 pm on Oct 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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they want Google to supply headlines and snippets

Indeed, and for the obvious reason you mentioned (it drives lucrative traffic).

But there is a limit, and Google have previously crossed the line with the now defunct Instant Preview.

So webmasters are right to be concerned about "slow boiling rabbits".

But they don't seem to care about Bing Preview, and many are happy to supply content to Facebook.

Funny old world.

...
8:17 pm on Oct 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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for many businesses and organizations, having information displayed directly on a Google or Bing SERP is ideal

we're not talking about those kind of businesses, though — we are talking about newspaper sites.

it's one thing having google print your shop's opening hours, telephone and address, because you can expect to get some customers from that, but there's a lot less benefit in having google reprint the basis of your news story, because the user has got all that he needs (probably).
8:34 pm on Oct 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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we are talking about newspaper sites

Correct - and this is in the opening paragraph of the thread:

it seems the publishers have now decided to back down having realised that Google drives a great deal of traffic

Brief snippets in the SERPs apparently encourage people to click through to the story.

Newspapers should know this as they do exactly the same on the front of their own websites.

...
8:47 pm on Oct 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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its a shame that they didnt test out the theory though, if thats what people are saying they did — it seems like they backed down before google made the change. maybe the traffic loss wouldnt have been as bad as they feared

i mean... if google just printed the headline without the snippet, compared to the headline plus the snippet

maybe the traffic would have stayed the same... its not far-fetched to think so
6:08 am on Oct 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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i mean... if google just printed the headline without the snippet, compared to the headline plus the snippet

maybe the traffic would have stayed the same... its not far-fetched to think so


I think there would have been a real loss... as the only publishers about to get hit were GERMAN. The rest of the web would still be there, and those competitor news stories, too.
2:52 pm on Oct 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Wowza! Welcome to the new world.

I just had a question in mind related to backing up a Wordpress site. The question: What are custom fields (in Wordpress)?

I figured I'd be directed to the Wordpress.org site or the site of some kindly guru. Nope.

Right at the top of the page, in a little box, was the answer . . that the algo inserted:

WordPress has the ability to allow authors to assign custom fields to a post. This extra information is known as meta-data. Meta data for custom posts can be information like a mood status or what you are currently listening to as the WordPress Codex points out.


Now, the algo was kind enough to include a link to the source page . . which I didn't visit . . because I now had an answer. Maybe not an exactly accurate or detailed or "from the top authority" answer, but good enough for now.

Of course, y'all know how the human mind works: IF I clicked away, to visit the page, then it's likely my eye and mind may have wandered to other text or images on the destination site . . which may have lead me to explore . . which may have lead to a purchase or bookmark . .

Wowza! Hello Answer Engine. Adios Search Engine.
6:09 pm on Nov 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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its a shame that they didnt test out the theory though, if thats what people are saying they did — it seems like they backed down before google made the change. maybe the traffic loss wouldnt have been as bad as they feared


Well, the 4 websites from Axel Springer did not immediately give in. So, they found out how much difference the omitted snippets actually made.

From search in general, they had 40% less traffic, without the snippets.

From Google News, they even had 80% less traffic.

Not surprisingly, also Axel Springer gave in, and now allows Google to use snippets without cost.
 

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