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Executive Report - By Thomas Baekdal - June 2019

What really happened to publishers when Google entered the market?

The "Google should pay for linking to us"-battle has come to the US. This is a battle that we have had here in Europe for ... well... forever, but now US publishers also think this will be the solution to all their problems.

As a media analyst, I am so frustrated by this, because it illustrates a complete and total lack of understanding of why the market has changed the way it has.

The problem is that the media industry is wrong about why they are losing the market to Google. It's not because Google is indexing our articles, it's because they created something we in the media have never done. And this doesn't just apply to Google. It's the same story when it comes to things like Craigslist.

I have been trying to explain this for 15 years, without much luck, so with this article, I'm going back to the basics. I will illustrate what has actually happened, and why we are essentially fighting the wrong fight.

The reality is that, even if publishers end up convincing the politicians to give them what they want, they are still going to lose.

But let me explain why.

How search dramatically changed everything

If you are as old as me, you will remember a world before search. A time where if you wanted to find something, you basically had to resort to trial and error.

Let me give you an example from the world of retail, and then I will explain why it's the same for publishers.

Imagine that you want to buy a new shirt, but you are living in a small town that only has six fashion shops. How would you find that before the internet?

Well, you would go out into the city and visit each shop. You would go to the first shop and ask if they had what you were looking for, then to the next shop, and the next, until eventually you found something that was kind of what you liked.

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What is Baekdal?

Baekdal is a magazine for media professionals, focusing on media analysis, trends, patterns, strategy, journalistic focus, and newsroom optimization. Since 2010, it has helped publishers in more than 40 countries, including big and small publishers like Condé Nast, Bonnier, Schibsted, NRC, and others, as well as companies like Google and Microsoft.

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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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