Google officially enters the content business

The most significant news in Google’s launch of its finance service is that is licensing content from Reuters.

In each of its other endeavors — search, news, shopping, classifieds — Google has maintained an open, albeit uneven, playing field. That wouldn’t work in the case of finance because Google had to integrate data into its presentation and Reuters was wise and happy to sell it to them.

But what this means is that Google is no longer just an aggregator — which, I’ve argued, is a beneficial thing to be for content holders, because an aggregator makes links and links make traffic — but is now a destination that will hold users in and compete with other content.

Yahoo has been in this position for years, after it stopped being merely a directory and source of links (Jerry Yang once said at a meeting I attended that his job was to get people in and out of Yahoo as quickly as possible; that tune soon changed). Yahoo has licensed Associated Press wire content — over the objection of many of its members, for precisely this reason — and built a destination that tries to both keep people in and link out (see its new and rather uninspired local aggregator). The net result is that Yahoo is less effective at creating linked traffic than other portals.

Watch out as Google creeps, as Yahoo did, into the content business and competes with, instead of merely organizing, content. It’s a momentous move.

  • afsvfan

    who needs AP/reuters when there are millions of blogs.

    aren’t blogs better than them ?

    you probably got a super secret deal…google will pay you millions to
    use buzzmachine content on googles front page.

    screw old media .

  • blogs get a lot of content from media, blogs aren’t better but different.

    Seems your reasoning is that Jeff is not condemning Google [altho not rahrah-ing] so that means he’s on the take? Does that apply to anything else positive he says? negative?

    I get paid so much for my opinions, but I go on having and expressing them anyway.

  • Heather Green

    Hey Jeff,

    It’s a great point. I wonder, though, whether they already starting moving towards this direction with Google Video, where they have done deals with CBS etc and clearly have their eyes on getting more content out of Time Warner via the AOL deal. What do you think?

  • Jeff:
    Perhaps you should make a distinction between redistributing content and creating content. So far it seems Google (and Yahoo) are just redistributing other’s work.

    Blogs create content, for example – even when the springboard is an existing news story.

  • Tim

    Google seriously needs to figure out a good way to integrate all of its offerings and make it easy to navigate between them. I really like the new site — they try it in an interesting way. Right now Google has great stuff, but it’s a big mess.

  • Heather,
    I think you’re right but I saw the video deals as a necessity of rights and distribution and this as a step into creating a content product.
    I don’t think they create content but they create a new content product using content, if that makes sense.

  • Robert,
    I don’t think they create content but they create a new content product using content, if that makes sense.

    Sure, it is what all phone books and indexes do, it is even copyrightable, but for Google I think this is just a stepping stone. If they just present the same financial data as other sites the only thing they have going for them is arrangement and presentation. We read your blog because of what you (and others) have to say, not primarily to follow the citations. Novel content, I think, is what will make for successful web destinations.

  • Hasn’t Google always licensed data (a.k.a. content) for its Maps and Earth applications?

  • Who cares whether Google creates, aggregates, licenses, or distributes content. All that matters is whether or not google improves my life which it has done in spades.

    Google hosts my blog for free. I find its maps preferable to other websites. The search engine is obviously very useful.

    In fact it is easier to find a specific restaurant through google than it is through citysearch.

  • bob denmore

    Wake me up when Google starts employing actual journalists.

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  • Jimmy

    I know Google Finance is in beta and maybe it’s because I a major Google hater, but I think Yahoo Finance wipes the floor with them. People get so excited when Google adds something “new” to their website (more often just a copy of what someone else offers), but it’s such a jumbled mess. Why do people love this company so much?

  • I just wonder about having blogs beside real financial info. Sure, some blogs will have great info, but others will be filled with ranting opinions, misleading info, and all out stupidity.

  • Shumway,

    “ranting opinions, misleading info, and all out stupidity.”?

    Big Media turned that into a multi-billion dollar business.

    There are good blogs out there and they will be discovered.

  • Noneyo

    This is NOT Google’s first licensing of content. It may be the first time they PAID for content, but all sites who syndicate reviews on Google Local (such as must sign license agreements and send Google a nicely formatted XML feed of their content.

    Google’s standard content licensing agreement requires publishers to continuously send Google content for 2 years, and publishers cannot cancel the contract… Let’s say for example if the publisher is acquired by a Google competitor.

    So if Yahoo buys the publisher, Yahoo’s subsidiary must continue sending content to Google Local.

  • It seems Google is now also up to something that is, in my judgement, a little more nefarious. On the Google Homepage, buried among the linked headlines from the NY Times is an alleged “story” entitled, “Accounts Payable Clerk – Mentor 4, Inc. – Tacoma, Washington”. Certainly a strange sounding story for the Times.

    Clicking on this link brings one to a help wanted ad on a site called This practice is certainly deceptive, if not outright fraudulent ,and probably ineffective as advertising. The question is, who was paid to place the ad, Google, the Times, or both?

    I provide the links on my blog, Hogan’s Alley.

  • Ted

    Google will have a big problem on their hands if they try to directly compete with people in the content business, since so many of them use AdSense. Yahoo’s content publishing ventures have been fairly innocuous, and people dont’ fear them. But the size of Google and the amount of traffic they generate for content producers has them scared, and they will surely flow to Yahoo!s ad network or a 3rd, ads-only party.

  • qcontent

    Goggle, like Sears in their hayday and Walmart today, are so big and so obsessed with growth and momentum and profit that they are forced to try to be eveything to everyone, to try to have something for everyone; that they tend to branch out in every direction at once. It is in the nature of that type of beast, to do what they tend to do. We’ll see what happens, and how well it works.

  • Jim Dermitt

    There are two kinds of content. We have ad supported content and premium content which people will pay money for. Real things tend to have value. Google has done well with advertising. Making money by making real things is more difficult. Look at GM which is a big manufacturer or the steel industry.

    Real people make real stuff in a real world. Brands don’t have a loyal following like they did in the past. Google seems to destroy brands or at least the relationship between brands and consumers while it promotes its own brand. As for Business Week, they seem to be competing with themselves. If you have a print publication, having a blog is redundant. I guess it’s like having cash and using a credit card because it’s just easier. The credit card is ad supported but cash is premium. Google is so big that you can’t compete. As a result Google has to compete with itself. It is in it’s own class and people want in and there will be a small group of insiders and a mass of outsiders trying to get in or figure it out or figure out how to get in. GM is trying to figure out how to get insiders to be outsiders and the insiders are worried. Designing a car is technical. Making a profit on the final product is difficult, even with unlimited advertising or a million dollar ad budget. Making 10% on a $15,000 car is difficult. Google gives a great return on investment unless you are in the automobile business and then Google won’t do much for your bottom line. As a result local car dealers go out of business and people lose jobs. Google is hiring. Can you learn to make nothing and make a whole lot of it?