Microsoft Trying To Buy Its Way To Search Supremacy

Microsoft wants to pay Newscorp to de-index its stories from Google, giving Bing a leg-up in searches.

The story says:

One website publisher approached by Microsoft said that the plan “puts enormous value on content if search engines are prepared to pay us to index with them”.

Microsoft’s interest is being interpreted as a direct assault on Google because it puts pressure on the search engine to start paying for content.

Any way you look at it, a deal like this is bad for consumers.

Microsoft and News Corp eye web pact [Financial Times]

Comments

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  1. costcolio says:

    Pay to Play!

  2. hypnotik_jello says:

    If I recall both twitter and facebook started this trend by charging google for indexing rights.

  3. jacques says:

    It may not be illegal, but it’s pretty disgusting. Glad I don’t give money to either of these buffoons.

  4. elganador says:

    Looks like Murdoch got what he was fishin’ for with lo’ these many months of talk/threats.

    The question though is “Who’s gonna look at your ads if they don’t know you exist?” The publishing industry is in a precarious situation of trying to get payment for any use of its content (including the viewage of such on their own sites – read: paywalls) while also trying to charge advertisers for page views and clicks (which necessarily have to decrease if you’re charging for access).

    I think overall the aim is for something like current-day cable television without the central distribution/cable provider aspect.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      I think overall the aim is for something like current-day cable television

      Exactly. I think it was someone from Verizon who accused Google of getting a free ride a few years ago. They want people to pay for Internet Access but then pay again for access to specific sites. They want popular sites to pay them for allowing people to access them and they want search engines to pay them for letting us find those sites. It’s insane.

  5. full.tang.halo says:

    This could be an epic poison pill for the search industry, who is listed with who, if I wanna search for x do I go to bing or google, or some 3 player? The search end user is gonna be the one that loses. This is going backwards. You’re gonna end up with another layer of over bing/google ala dogpile back in the late 90’s indexing indexes…. I know that is doom a gloom, but a plausible outcome if search starts getting fragmented.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      It’s possible, but I think it’s more likely that it’s going to backfire.

      It’ll be like web browsers. People don’t assume anything’s wrong with their browser if the page they’re viewing looks wrong no matter how old it is or how many standards it doesn’t comply with. Most people who don’t create web sites don’t even know about standards. They assume that it’s the people who maintain the site that did something wrong.

      It’ll be the same way if they start trying to hide themselves from search engines. They won’t know or care that they’re purposefully hiding from Google, just that they’re finding what they’re looking for at other sites instead.

    • jsl4980 says:

      No one will lose out in this deal. There are thousands of publications out there. When I search I search for content and I don’t care who the provider is. If Newscorp doesn’t show up any more then there are thousands of other publications who will.

  6. adamstew says:

    I think what’s going to happen is that all of the wall street journal, fox news, etc. are all going to fall off of google’s search engine. Then when people search for news stories about a subject they won’t be able to find it.

    I expect newscorp to lose a lot of traffic over this. People use Google because they provide the best search results. I tried to use Bing a few times, and it didn’t give me the information I needed.

    • theblackdog says:

      You make having Fox News and it’s affiliates falling off of Google sound like it’s a bad thing.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Oh, they’ll find the story. They’ll just find it from other sources who didn’t decide to hide themselves from the most popular search engine.

      Unless they do this with the small, local news sites too. I could see some local stories becoming unfindable though I’d still expect the competing stations to cover most of the same stories.

    • Jetts says:

      After listening to Murdoch whining about Google, I hope this does reduce the traffic to Fox News. I’m not really up on the whole Fox News debate, but Murdoch really rubs me the wrong way in every interview I see him in.

    • jsl4980 says:

      There are thousands of publications that cover the exact same stories that Fox News and the WSJ cover. The only losers here are Fox News and WSJ. I’ll still search Google the way I did before and still find the content I want, I just won’t find it from WSJ.

  7. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    This actually solves a problem I’ve had for a long time: The desire to exclude Fox News from my Google News page. Thanks for fixing it there, Rupert!

  8. SoCalGNX says:

    Microsoft has a history of providing disappointing products. Bing is only one of the latest.

  9. cerbie_the_orphan says:

    If I can visit, and see news, then certainly, a basic spider, checking every few minutes, could be made to track changes, and upon finding new or modified links, track them. It may not be as efficient, but they are basically talking about paying for the privilege of creating and updating an index (an optimized set of pointers and search data) of content that is freely viewable.

    Color me unimpressed, and watch me make popcorn for the polite PR fight that will ensue.

  10. mac-phisto says:

    giving bing a leg up? more like giving newscorp a leg down. when their unique hits drop exponentially, i hope microsoft’s bribe money fills in the gap from lost ad revenue.

    as for me, i guess that’s just one less news company to read from. actually makes my life a lot easier since a lot of newscorp’s content is just reposts of reuters & ap stories.

    • zlionsfan says:

      Yeah, it’s not like the only place that news is available is from “official news sources” or whatever.

      The main problem with the Cuban Strategy is that it assumes that people look for results from specific sites when they use Google. I don’t think most people do that. I would guess most people just click through whatever comes up on the first page.

      I might be wrong, but I sure wouldn’t bet millions to find out.

  11. diasdiem says:

    Why don’t they do what other businesses do to drum up online business? Google AdSense!

  12. PsiCop says:

    I don’t know which is worse … the foul odor of this unsavory deal, or the matter-of-fact, “nothing to see here” manner in which people at both companies and reporters are discussing it. If market collusion has become “no big deal,” then we’re doomed.

    • PølάrβǽЯ says:

      I don’t think it’s market collusion that is “no big deal,” it’s the disappearance of Fox News.

  13. Noir says:

    It’s a symbiotic relationship. Search engines go poop without good results, and webpages go poop without visits. I couldn’t care less about faux news dissapearing from Google, and I don’t think everyone is stupid enough to lose the visitors comming from Google.

  14. oklansas says:

    It’s actions like this which shy me away from using Bing (really any Microsoft product I don’t have too). The sad part is, apart from an interface which is too slick for its own good, Bing is a credible alternate to Google.

    However, Microsoft needs to learn that copious amounts of money are no match for a stable full of free and awesome cloud computing apps!

    • webweazel says:

      I use bing once in a while. It is a good alternative to Google, but definitely not a replacement. What disturbs me most is, Microsoft has been chasing search for years now, and have gained a minimal foothold. Rather than coming up with a great search engine with excellent results, perhaps displayed in aa alternative way which would be very helpful, they’re resorting to bribery.

      I guess if you can’t play with the big boys, use bribery and/or coersion to try to FORCE people to use an inferior product. Sounds like a similar definition to a lobbyist, or what Intel has been doing to AMD over the years.

  15. Berz says:

    Just makes me want to use google more.

  16. goodpete says:

    This sounds like a great idea. It will cost Microsoft a bunch of money, and it will cost News Corp a bunch of readers. Sounds like a win-win situation to me…

    Personally, I hardly ever see online news that’s not fed to me via my RSS feeds and Google News results. My RSS feeds are almost entirely blogs (like Consumerist!) who probably won’t be paying News Corp to link to their stuff. So I’ll just miss out on that part of the news. Somehow it doesn’t feel like a great loss, though.

  17. jsl4980 says:

    This doesn’t matter. Let them do it. Have you seen Google News? Every single story on there says “view all 1000 related stories.” If Newscorp delists from Google then all my results will say “view all 999 related stories.” This deal will only hurt Newscorp and Microsoft (for wasting cash).

    Any smart talented writers at Newscorp will realize that by delisting from Google they will lose over 60 to 90% of their readership and the best writers will easily find jobs at smarter publications. Microsoft probably doesn’t realize that by gaining exclusivity they will actually decrease the value of the content they want to buy.

  18. korybing says:

    Way to fix the problem, Microsoft. Don’t make your search engine better, just force people to use it.

    Did Google do this kinda crap before it became the number 1 search engine? I don’t remember hearing about it if they did.

  19. JHerrick79 says:

    The implications of this for the broader world of the internet are alarming: Companies having to pay to be indexed by Google, or paying one another not to be indexed by Google. If it goes this way, it’s going to really hurt small sites and small business.

    • jsl4980 says:

      No it isn’t… This is going to greatly help smaller publications. This means less competitors in Google’s rankings. This is an amazing opportunity for every small publication out there that understands how the internet works.

      Rupert Murdoch has no clue how the internet works and he will run his web presence into the ground if they go Bing only. Which will cause good writers to jump ship and go work for smarter publications (which will devalue the content Microsoft paid for).

  20. Smashville says:

    The only ones this will help will be Newscorp’s competitors.

    Google.com is the #1 website in the United States in terms of traffic. It is visited by almost 40 percent of internet users every single day.

    Bing is ranked #17, but is only viewed by 3.4% of users.

    Google News already has partnerships with thousands of news sites. If someone wants to go to find out something from a Newscorp source, they’ll go straight to the source. If they want to find out about something and don’t care where the source is, they’ll Google it like they’ve always done.

    Microsoft loses money, Newscorp gets 1/10th of the audience…and all of Newscorp’s competitors have one less competitor to worry about getting clicked over.

  21. TailsToo says:

    Just like MS – if they can’t win in a fair fight, find a way to try and poison your competition by throwing money made from the Windows/Office monopoly.

    If Microsoft didn’t have that huge cash machine to back them up, they wouldn’t even be relevant in search. This does nothing to make a better search experience or make a better product.

    How about they make A BETTER PRODUCT? Maybe then people will then start using Bing.

  22. Matt says:

    If there’s anything we’ve learned about the internet, it’s that news stays in only one place and is never copied or duplicated around. Oh wait, I just pulled up Google News and the top news story has 1,597 related articles. Guess I was wrong.

  23. redskull says:

    Heh. I pointed out the “bing = disease” thing on my blog a couple of months ago.

  24. Grabraham says:

    Timely post over at techdirt – http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20091114/1839216938.shtml

    But, of course, even though Meghani was silenced on that issue, it doesn’t mean he has to be silent on all of the flaws in Bing’s Cashback program, so his latest (found via Slashdot) is that various retailers that offer “cashback” via Bing purchases are showing higher prices if you search via Bing. In fact, the price people can pay if they do certain searches on Bing is higher than if they’d gone direct:

    ” So, if I go directly to butterflyphoto.com, I pay $699 with 0% cashback. If I use Bing Cashback, I pay $758 with 2% cashback, or $742.84. Using Bing cashback has actually cost me $43.84, giving an effective cashback rate of -6.27%. Yes, negative cashback! Is this legal? False advertising? I don’t know, but it’s pretty sketchy.”

    The problem doesn’t end there. Using Bing has tainted my web browser. Butterfly Photo set a three month cookie on my computer to indicate that I came from Bing. Any product I look at for the next three months may show a different price than I’d get by going there directly. Just clicking a Bing link means three months of potentially negative cashback, without me ever realizing it. I’m actually afraid to use their service even just to write this, because it may cost me money in the future. If you’ve been thinking about trying out Bing Cashback, you may want to rethink that.

    • Chmeeee says:

      Wow. This is pretty damn sketchy, and an excellent reason not to use them. I can however say this does not affect Dell and eBay, the two sites for which I have used cashback from (averaging something like 20% overall).

    • mac-phisto says:

      well that sucks. if you still want to try it but don’t want “tainted cookies”, just set your browser to delete all personal data (or just cookies) on close. for example, in FF, open tools -> options -> navigate to “privacy” tab & tell FF to “never remember history” (or use a custom setting & decide what you want it to keep & delete).

      deleting cookies is a good idea even if you don’t use bing. cookie sniffers have been around almost as long as cookies & they’re still a problem.

  25. teletone says:

    This IS evil, but I don’t think Microsoft has they type of money to guarantee that they won’t be losing out on the future web traffic they’d gain from Google search.

  26. PDQ2 says:

    It’s a bad deal for the newspapers that link up with Bing. Bing is a minor player still and there are people (me included) who don’t use it now and don’t plan to use it in the future. If they want to disappear off the radar screen entirely for a lot of Internet users, go with Bing!

  27. Bohemian says:

    I find the whole thing amusing. Two companies I have plenty of reason not to like want to go into a corner and huff paint fumes for a while. I have no use for Bing and I have no use for what Murdock claims to be “news”. So there is the double bonus of them no longer bothering me (via Google results) and this will hurt both businesses.

    People are not going to pay to view every website out there. There are very very few that provide a level of content or uses that people will pay for. There are just too many alternatives willing to take their place and provide content that doesn’t cost an admission fee.

  28. srh says:

    “Any way you look at it, a deal like this is bad for consumers. “

    That’s a simplistic statement. This may turn out badly for consumers. It may also turn out well for consumers. Additional profit for content providers may result in more and higher quality content.

  29. Shadowfax says:

    Rather ironic that Microsoft, which partners with NBC on its cable network, is trying to become the exclusive search vendor of Fox News.

    Were I on the top floor of NBC HQ, I would be annoyed.

  30. Trai_Dep says:

    Microsoft and Fox News: a couple MADE for each other!

    It’s telling that, rather than innovate, Microsoft’s first impulse is to try coming up with a behind-the-scenes, backroom deal to win over a market. Much like their illegal tying of their OS to their application and web-based markets.

    There’s also the VERY significant problem that, besides investigative feature articles (chortle: hardly Fox’s forté) and columnists, most news isn’t sought based on brand, it’s based on relevance.

    I can only see Microsoft’s desperate ploy creating a sandbox/echo chamber, or failing.
    Unless it’s simply a cynical ploy to raise the costs of the other search companies’ cost of doing business, setting them up for Microsoft’s greater ability to piss away money due to their OS advantage (yet again).

    So I’m tied between thinking it’s very stupid, very wasteful or just evil.

  31. gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

    uh, that assumes that people want to see fox’s news data.
    i use google, and don’t think i’ve ever specifically gone out looking for something on fox’s site. or myspace, for that matter. although there’s some other big paper under the NewsCorp umbrella – WSJ possibly?

  32. pdxazn says:

    Don’t they call that “Monopoly”? Stay away from Microsoft.

  33. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    What’s happening is the opposite. They want Google to pay THEM for the privilege of sending people to their site.

  34. ogman says:

    The old media company will lead the old tech company right down the crapper. It will be good to see both go away.

  35. Nick Wright says:

    Murdoch is desperate to weasel his way into new forms of revenue, no matter what the effect on the consumer or the industry. Microsoft’s part in this deal is what I find the most disappointing. I will side with a Google free of Newscorp’s disinformation and hope Newscorp loses a lot of money before they realize how much they shot themselves in the foot.

  36. henrygates3 says:

    I think Microsoft has a screw loose. Newscorp would be shooting themselves in the foot by delisting from Google. Google IS the dominant search engine. It’s very name has become a verb.

    Typical Microsoft, instead of using innovation to get ahead, use all the sleazy tricks money can buy.

  37. kingdom2000 says:

    I actually like Bing, but this idea of buying exclusive search content is a sure fire way to make sure you never get my business again. This sets a dangerous precedent for search and in effect would make all search engines useless as you would have to start using search aggragators since never know what site has exclusive content for other websites.

    Microsoft’s solution to buy their way to the top doesn’t work in the internet age and any manager that suggests such solutions (and the chain of managers that buy into it) should be fired on the spot as they clearly no longer competent to compete in the current market.

  38. wobuding says:

    This is a crude attempt to disenfranchise Internet users. Microsoft ought to be ashamed of itself for trying the bludgeon itself into general acceptance. And note its partner: Rupert Murdoch, Mr. Me First and Only Me.
    Expressing disgust, however, is futile. Money talks. I suggest a boycott of Bing. And a boycott of Fox TV programs.
    I have used Bing now and then, despite a long-standing distrust of Microsoft and, especially, its present boss. I will never use Bing again. I urge those who agree that this move to slice up the Internet into Murdoch/ Microsoft pieces ia destructive and against the basic tenets of the Internet’s reason for existence.
    No one has ever been strong-armed into buying a newspaper. It’s voluntary. What newspapers (and other media) can do is offer their wares on the Internet for a fair price, if they do not wish to contunue providing their output for nothing.
    What’s a marketplace for? It is not a playground for unprincipled oligarchs. The Internet is not a golden apple to be stolen. Or sliced into oblivion.

  39. uber_mensch says:

    That doesn’t surprise me one bit. A company in Atlanta, GA called Web.Com, Inc., under former CEO Jeff Stibel, was paid $3 million dollars by Microsoft to put all of their web hosting customers on Microsoft IIS servers. What MS didn’t know was that Web.com put the customers on Redhat Linux servers then put IIS on proxy servers to hide the Linux boxes thanks to the NOC director, Hyun Jin O.

  40. mpanthera says:

    Oh I tried Bing once, it wat too flashy, and had too many bells and whistles for my needs, and besides besides that M$ just can’t hates to lose, so they now have to try and buy thier way out. They should just stop wasting money on trying to win the internets and just give up.

  41. akuma_619 says:

    This is a bad move and just microsoft in its monopolistic business practices. To beat google you need a better search engine and right now that is google. It is ingrained in our culture. When we want to find out about something we say go google it.