Axel Springer, Germany’s largest publisher and the owner of Europe’s largest newspaper, has said it wants back in to snippets. According to Reuters the German publishing giant revealed that traffic to its four largest online properties from Google search results “had fallen by 40 percent” and referrals from Google News had dropped “by 80 percent in the past two weeks.”
We previously reported on the decision by VG Media, a consortium of German publishers including Axel Springer, to opt back in to snippets because of a significant traffic decline that would have potentially caused some of its members “to go bankrupt.”
Google has long maintained in its disputes with publishers that it sends valuable traffic their way. This episode seems to vindicate that argument. Yet the decision to opt back in to snippets is not a truce but a temporary cease fire as the German publisher bitterly acknowledged its dependance on Google traffic.
In the wake of the controversy surrounding the country’s relatively new “ancillary copyright” law, Axel Springer had opted out of Google snippets for properties welt.de, computerbild.de, sportbild.de and autobild.de, according to the Reuters report.
This followed a complicated back and forth under the copyright law regarding how much publisher content would be included in Google results. VG Media had sought to compel Google to include their content but also to pay for it. Google opted to reduce publisher content to headlines to minimize its potential liability under the new copyright rules.
Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner previously wrote an “Open Letter to Eric Schmidt” in which he said his company was “afraid of Google”:
Google is a prime example of a market-dominating company. With a seventy-percent global market share, Google defines the infrastructure on the Internet . . . there are search engines with market shares of …read more