Is Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) feeling sorry for newspapers? Seriously, I'm asking. At this year's TechCrunch50 conference, company vice president Marissa Mayer introduced an enhancement to Google News: archiving of long-dormant newspaper content.
"Around the globe, we estimate that there are billions of news pages containing every story ever written. And it's our goal to help readers find all of them, from the smallest local weekly paper up to the largest national daily. The problem is that most of these newspapers are not available online. We want to change that," wrote product manager Punit Soni in Google's blog.
Assuming there are no copyright issues with the content -- remember Google's awkward tussle with the Author's Guild -- this is an intriguing move. Long dead content resuscitated, and monetized; this July 20, 1969 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, for example. Notice the brand-spanking new ads on the right side of the page.
Picture Dr. Victor Frankenstein so obsessed with beating death that he stitches together from once-dead body parts a killer known to us readers as "the monster." Only this monster is Google News: a beast of a content aggregator already worth $100 million that skims ever more ad revenue from content it didn't create.
Not that Gannett (NYSE: GCI ) , McClatchy (NYSE: MNI ) , or New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT ) should be complaining. To the contrary, monetizing long-dead content is key for media companies in the digital age. Just ask Marvel Entertainment (NYSE: MVL ) , whose library of new and classic digitized comics was overwhelmed by demand in its first hours.
Interestingly, the unveiling comes on the heels of news that Google has struck a deal with General Electric's (NYSE: GE ) NBC unit to place TV ads on several of its cable channels, including my favorite stock market channel: CNBC.
The message? Living or dead, DoubleGoo is the company you hire to figure out how to monetize your content.
So yeah, maybe Google is Dr. Frankenstein in this story. And maybe it is on the verge of creating another market monster. Would you really be surprised if that were the case? DoubleGoo has a long history of making its rivals -- Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) , especially -- look like Igor.
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