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.
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