Searching for magazine’s search solution

Searching for magazine’s search solution: Let me say this first: Walling off the content of a magazine’s online property is NOT a solution, despite any analysis from the Boston Consulting Group or whoever else wants to suggest it. Actually, I don’t know what’s in the research, but Hershel Sarbin says it raises the right questions, and he was at the conference yesterday where the analysis was presented. The questions may be right, but I’ve got to agree (however, I’d not put it in the same type of vernacular) with Niki Scevak, who interpreted the message of the analysis to be (based on what the Mediapost.com article says), “the basic crux of the report is that magazine publishers should get together, collude and not allow search engines to index their content. That’s because search engines make money from advertising and that they link to blogs.”

As I’ve stated on this weblog ad nauseum, Google is not the enemy (at least in this case). Google is writing millions of dollars of checks each month to publishers for all of those Adsense ads appearing on their websites. Also, (lest one forgets), it recently handed over $1 billion to the world’s largest magazine publishing company to acquire 5% of an online business the company owns. Businesses don’t wall off folks who write them such checks.

I am not able to comment on the suggestion that search engines somehow devalue the brands of the media to which they deliver traffic. I can’t comment on it because I don’t even understand the premise enough to argue against it.

Regarding the broader topic of magazines and search, I will say this: Magazine publishers, especially those in the business-to-business arena, have the opportunity to work together to provide advertisers with a better search advertising option than the broad, consumer-focused services. Narrow search (a very easy-to-understand example of “narrow search” is Rollyo, where you can put together your own “narrow search” of, say, magazine resources) or, for another example, what I am experiementing with at search.smallbusiness.com) can simplify search in a business context. More importantly, if publishers within a certain category work together to develop common taxonomies in their niches, they will discover search options that can serve their industries and their readers’ interests with a more compelling search experience than search that has to, by necessity, appeal to the broadest possible market.

We are in the early, early days of search.