Google News Shutdown in Spain Not Having Much of an Impact

When Spain passed its new copyright laws last October, many feared that the license fees imposed on snippets would imperil aggregators like Google News, social networks like Twitter, and online communities like Menéame.

It's still not clear how the latter have been affected, but the latest reports suggest that the impact on Google News has been minimal. Google did shut down Google News in Spain in December in response to the law being passed, but the actual impact (on the news sites which showed up in the search results) was minimal.

Early clickbait reports to the contrary, Google News wasn't a major source of traffic for the major Spanish news sites.

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Citing a story on PRNoticias (which used traffic data from ComScore), IPKat reported yesterday that the major Spanish news sites suffered a drop in traffic between 1% and 10%. 20Minutos.es saw a drop of 4%, while traffic to El País fell by 3% to 7.9 million and El Mundo's traffic decreased by 4% to 7.8 million.

Traffic dropped, yes, but the losses were far smaller than experienced by German news sites when those sites tried to extract fees from Google in exchange for the privilege of being listed in Google News.

Or rather, some sites in Germany lost traffic. Axel Springer, for example, had to give in and grant Google free use of snippets from its news stories (as did many other German new sites).

But not all sites caved or were even bothered by lost traffic from Google News. In fact, at least one German media company made it through an earlier round of the license fee battle without harm. Rhein-Zeitung reported in 2013 that it had survived being dropped from Google News without serious impact to its web traffic. (Thanks, expy!)

Similarly, when the majority of Brazilian newspapers withdrew from Google News in 2012, they reported an average loss of only 5% of their traffic.

That stands in stark contrast to Germany, where the majority of the major news sites felt they had to acquiesce to Google in order to keep the traffic coming from Google News.

It's not clear to this blogger why some sites have thrived in the absence of Google while others struggled, but I would bet that the former had put more work into cultivating a loyal readership and developing additional traffic sources, while the latter had not.

image by NS Newsflash

About Nate Hoffelder (11591 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

3 Comments on Google News Shutdown in Spain Not Having Much of an Impact

  1. The effect is huge, if you ask me: with the drop of traffic affecting basically only small news sites (many of which rose their voice against a law that forbids them waive their right to be payed by Google News and similar sites) while leaving major media companies unaffected (which were the main lobby pushing for said law), there is now far less public exposure to professional journalism less subject to government pressures (which was all along the hidden purpose of that law IMHO), which in effect is a practical diminishment of free speech, the people’s empowerment and democracy basically.

  2. You would likely win your bet.
    Some sites build strong communities of regular visitors while others rely on grazers being redirected by search and aggregators.
    On the tech side you can see the difference between CNET and GIGAOM.
    One hosts discussions, reviews, downloads, and bargain hunter special deals. The other is dead…

  3. The problem is that the author if this paper is stupid.

    I mean really stupid

    In a years time even a 5% drop in traffic when other news outlets in other countries grew 20% and Spains internet usage grew is HUGE and the drop was more like 15% which means they actually lost something like 35% of the market they could have had.

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