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Hey German Publishers, Google Helps Your Traffic! Really!

In today's New York Times, German publisher Axel Springer talked about its plan to save the newspaper business: a "one-click marketplace" where consumers could buy their content, maybe even working with Voldemort -- I meant Google -- as the door into the enterprise. See something you want to read, and are willing to pay for, and then pay the price.

That's not the worst idea in the world -- although once again it seems based on the premise that people should pay for content rather than that people would be willing to pay for content -- but the German publishing community's plans for how to deal with the online world totally go off the rails in an idea that appears to be at least as insane as the one put forth by Rupert Murdoch, who actually thinks it might be a good idea to pull News Corp. content off of Google, even though Google and Google News account for more than a quarter of News Corp.'s online traffic.

The German publishing community has this cockamamie idea that when Google displays their snippets of content that Google should pay them for the privilege. In essence, Google would be paying for the free advertising it is giving publishers! It would be a nifty trick if, in other parts of the media, publishers had to pay advertisers.

I know Google isn't strictly a publisher, nor are publishing companies strictly advertisers, but clearly Google is providing a platform in which consumers are getting exposure to product (in this case, from the publishing community) that has a value -- enough of a value, the publishing community hopes, that people might pay for it. Therefore, Google should not only get the ad revenue it already collects -- arguably it should get a cut of the revenue newspapers derive from those consumers who get to their toll plaza because they got to it through Google.

Man, I hate having to explain these things, but German publishers, you've got it all wrong.

Previous coverage of publishers online at BNET Media:

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