Google 'poses growing threat'

Words of warning: Pat Kenealy

Business-to-business magazine publishers have been warned about the growing threat from the internet, particularly the search engine Google.

Speaking at the FIPP International B2B Conference in Barcelona, Pat Kenealy, chief executive of International Data Group (IDG), urged publishers to stay aware of changes in new technology.

He said: “Google is, in many ways, a media company. With the internet, the pace of change is faster than publishers can measure,” he said. “In the developing countries of the world, the internet is already mainstream. The internet is not a growing trend, it is the present.”

Kenealy warned publishers against underestimating the strength of Google’s business model. “Internet advertisements have been growing strongly throughout the past year, and the trend continues. Not only is advertising up, but the share of advertising budgets being absorbed by the web is also up,” he said.

He claimed that the biggest threat to publishers was the success of the search services, which can reach consumers with tightly targeted messages as they seek tightly targeted information.

“This places them firmly within the business-to-business arena. New media is often seen as a friend to publishers, but I can tell you that new media companies are often competitors,” he added.

According to global b2b publisher IDG, the revenues Google generated from keyword searches in its first year made it IDG’s fifth biggest competitor in the US.

Kenealy also told publishers that they should be aware of changing relationships with search engines like Google. Publishers initially took advertising from search engines through adverts on their websites, but today’s paid search now means publishers have become the customers, often forced to buy keywords to drive traffic to their own websites on the one hand, while competing with the search engines for advertising spend on the other.”On the news-stand, everyone is equal,” Kenealy continued.

“But many believe that on the internet, a small number of companies control distribution.”

Publishers were advised to include the internet in all their market-share measurements. “Rough estimates today are better than perfect measurements later,” Kenealy said.

Delegates were also advised to move away from their traditional three- to four-year business deals and instead engineer one-year deals to match the changing times.

Speculating over whether publishers should lock their content away from search engines to stop them being trawled, Kenealy said: “If it’s early enough, and you can build your sites behind registration systems, then do it when you can.

“Google levels the playing field for non-branded content. It is not the publisher’s branded content that appears first, it is whoever pays the most.”

By Ruth Addicott

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