The answer lies in the creation of a pan-industry solution that manages distribution,marketing, aggregation, charging, and price elasticity, while enabling competition and a freemarket between each publisher. In addition a publisher-driven project, could act as a “curator”attract other partners such as magazines, trade publishers, books, academia, etc, maximising both the appeal of the service, and profitability.Let’s examine each of these points:
The UK press already has an effective central set of resources in the NLA and PA. It would be a relatively simply exercise, to expand their remit, to the provision of title branded content,within a central search process. The NLA also offers sophisticated indexing, which can beused to provide far more granulated search, than is available in current search engines. Thiswould enable the currently volatile users of newspaper online services to undertake granulatedsearches of their specific interests, such as “David Beckham” “Global warming” “Goldman bonuses”, by source. While few individual newspapers’ general content services can demanda charge, the aggregated facility could be of considerable value, particularly if it includesother third party content. See charging below.
Marketing presumes that all the current search engines continue to co-operate – this can not be guaranteed. Against the regularly propounded argument that Google are stealing publishers’ lunch, is a reverse prediction, that in five years time, Google will come back anddemand a payment for the advertising revenues derived from the audiences that they havegenerated for publishers.So the need for a consolidated approach is further demonstrated.However evidence from many experiences in other countries is that the best way to accelerateshare of the online audience is by sites “sending” traffic to each other. Therefore there will bea need for publishers to consider how best to encourage users to stay within the environmentof the partners, rather than disappear off to other services. This requires some complexdiscussion and agreement.
Currently aggregation of the search engines means that a legitimate story in The Times, liesalongside a blog from “Igor the eco freak”. This may be a legitimate facility but any serviceoffered by Google and Microsoft, will facilitate this, where a publisher based system, willraise the value of legitimate content, while encouraging the idea of edited citizencontributions. In addition search engines fail to offer a categorized, granulated archive search.