Google, Facebook and online advertising

There’s an interesting analysis by Charles Arthur in today’s Guardian comparing the impact of Google and Facebook on news and media websites. Arthur cites recent complaints by Rupert Murdoch and Robert Thomson, the editor of the Wall Street Journal, about Google ripping off news content with its aggregator service, as this doesn’t necessarily create traffic for media owners and so offers little potential for returns through advertising.

However Arthur points out that it would make more sense for Murdoch to complain about Facebook, which sends far more traffic to News International sites in the UK than Google News does, according to figures from Experian Hitwise.

According to Paul Bradshaw, a reader in online journalism at Birmingham City University, who Arthur talked to for his article, Google is in Murdoch’s sites because at present it utterly dominates the online advertising market, and is therefore easily Murdoch’s biggest competitor. It makes sense for him to pick a target and stick to it.

But Bradshaw says social media traffic is underestimated because it’s a relatively recent phenomenon: after all, it took years for people to understand the value of Google, and to get to grips with search engine optimisation. He reckons it will take another  five years before social media optimisation is ‘also part of the furniture’.

In the long run, Bradshaw thinks, Facebook is likely to be hugely significant to news organisations for its traffic-driving potential. And considering its enormous size, it’s new ‘Like’ button, enabling Facebook users to recommend a page to their friends, is also likely to be of enormous interest to advertisers. ‘Unlike the big spikes of ‘window shoppers’ that Digg generates, Facebook can attract a long tail of users with demonstrable value,’ he says.

Read the article here.

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