Nearly half of Google News users just read headlines: report

Jan 19, 2010
Nearly half of the users of Google News skim the headlines at the news aggregator site without clicking through to newspaper websites, according to a survey released on Tuesday.

Nearly half of the users of Google News skim the headlines at the news aggregator site without clicking through to newspaper websites, according to a survey released on Tuesday.

The findings by Outsell Inc. appear likely to provide further ammunition to publishers such as News Corp.'s who have criticized and other aggregators for linking to stories without sharing ad revenue.

Google, responding to the criticism in the past from media tycoon Murdoch and others, has said it drives "about 100,000 clicks every minute" to media websites, generating ad revenue for the news outlets.

Outsell analyst Ken Doctor said in a statement that "among the aggregators, Google's effect on the 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."

Thirty percent of those surveyed said they do not use Google to find news stories, preferring to use other search services or to go directly to news publisher sites.

Twelve percent said they use Google to get to a and then use the search function on that site to find other stories. Fourteen percent said they go back to Google to find other newspaper stories.

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, which provides research and advisory services to the publishing and information industries, acknowledged it is an advocate of more remuneration for newspaper publishers from Google.

"Outsell has long asserted that news publishers -- as valuable suppliers to Google's 'manufacturing process,' monetized largely by 'paid search' -- deserve greater payments from the market-dominating search engine," it said.

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.

Thirty-one percent were likely to turn to a such as , Yahoo!, MSN or AOL while 30 percent said they would count on television.

Eight percent said they would use newspapers online. Eighteen percent said they would go to other online sites while seven percent said they would turn to radio.

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

Among the US dailies which have been mulling charging readers online is The New York Times, and New York magazine reported over the weekend that Times chairman Arthur Sulzberger appears close to announcing such a move.

The magazine said the Times appeared set to adopt a system like that of Britain's Financial Times, which allows readers to sample a certain number of articles for free before being asked to subscribe.

Like other US newspapers, the Times has been grappling with declining print advertising revenue, falling circulation and the migration of readers to free news online.

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