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paidContent.org: ‘The fallacy of the link economy’ for news sites

August 14th, 2009 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

Media consultant Arnon Mishkin argues that the value of linking between sites is getting captured by aggregators rather than by the news sites that they scrape and link to.

“Even in an absolute best-case scenario for producers of original content, the aggregators get at least as much traffic on linked stories as the creators of those stories because anyone who clicks on the link does so from the aggregator’s site (so each site gets a page view),” he writes.

“[E]ach aggregator gets to build a ‘front page’ to target and win over their chosen segment, or enable each user to tailor a front page perfectly suited to his or her needs. And they can do that by leveraging all the resources of the global journalistic community without paying any part of its cost.”

Looking at the link economy from the perspective of making money and getting the most out of initial traffic bursts generated by aggregators linking to a news site, Mishkin suggests three tactics:

  • News sites should seek ‘an equitable economic relationship’ with aggregators and drop links if they don’t get a fair deal;
  • Partner with other content providers to create their own aggregation sites;
  • Look at ‘wadgets’ – a combination of content and advertising – rather than ‘widgets’ purely offering a site’s material. This would allow them to monetise some of the traffic on the aggregators site.

The AP’s recent suggestion that it will creating landing pages for members’ news content and introduce a advertising revenue share arrangement seems to go some way to meeting Mishkin’s recommendations.

Interesting thoughts in a week where user-powered aggregator Digg introduced its new ad system. The question of how much revenue aggregation sites are generating should also be considered.

Full paidContent.org post at this link…

Related: see Publish2 founder Scott Karp’s thoughts on newspapers and the link economy.

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