Microsoft-Yahoo: No Mention of Publisher Deals

With all the news about Microhoo, no one’s mentioned how current content deals with publishers might change — for better or worse. Yet these licensed resources drive substantial portal traffic and ad dollars today.

As an example, let’s take a quick look at news licensed by all three players:

* Yahoo licenses many well-known news sources.
* Microsoft offers MSNBC-branded news content.
* Google doesn’t license; it scours thousands of sources.

At the SIIA (Software & Information Industry Association) conference last week, major publishers seemed more interested in driving traffic to their destinations than in licensing their online content to the portals. Even the most hide-bound publishers have delivered some content openly, and many have made their archives available online as well. In addition, they understand that engineering prowess will matter as much as editorial strength.

With these shifting priorities, do the large publishers win, lose or draw from Microhoo? It’s a draw, assuming steady portal traffic and no change in news providers. Fat chance. I’m betting that most licensing deals aren’t assignable — which means anything goes with a merger.

Microhoo might play smarter, however, if they coordinate services to increase revenue for publisher sites along with their portals. They have an array of services that appeal to print and broadcast suppliers, who haven’t made all their content completely crawlable yet.

Otherwise the publishers will be drawn, by default, to Google to meet their traffic and ad revenue goals. As Google’s David Eun told publishers at the SIIA confab, Google will continue to provide services which help publishers become “more ubiquitous online.”

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