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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Review of Google News Archive Search

Google (GOOG) is taking on an interesting role this morning. Today it is launching "Google News Archive Search," which will allow researchers and anyone doing searches on old news to go back some 200 years if the articles are available. Google is also doing with several partners you might not guess would want to cooperate, and with their blessing.

http://news.google.com/archivesearch/

Time Warner (TWX) has its Time Magazine in the search, as does the New York Times (NYT) and the Washington Post (WPO). Factiva, a venture of Reuters (RTRSY) & Dow Jones (DJ) are in the offering as well. You can even search and purchase old articles from the Wall Street Journal and The Gaurdian. LexisNexis, a news search unit of Reed Elsevier NV ADS (ENL) in Holland, is also said to be part of the search.

The interesting model here is that the "free"portion of this will essentially be an introduction or the first part of the article and you will have the option to buy the rest of each article. So instead of devaluing online content, this could in theory at least increase the value as back-dated articles could continue to generate revenues.

The publishers (for now) are getting to keep the fees charged per article, and Google will supposedly not get advertising or traffic from the deal. Google won't even have the typical sponsored links that it normally has, although that is on a "for now" status.

The service is grouping related articles together from a given time period and the search results are supposedly based entirely on relevance, with no precedence given to fee-based content over free content. The mix of fee versus free links will also vary depending on your query. This will also generate a quasi-timeline that allows search results in a chronology of news articles. This also takes each search click directly to the content owner's site.

This is seemingly like a quasi-free LexisNexis. It could even be decribed as a Topix.net similar product, but this is for some 200 years.

I did go in and pull up a few quick searches to get an interface and to get a quick opinion of the functionality. I typed in "Jack the Ripper" and was not really pleased with the chronology, but you do get an instant alternative to a normal Google search. A search for "1929 Crash" was a bit all over the place. Even typing in "Google IPO" shows a jumbled article result page. Nonetheless, this service will help for research and Google will undoubtedly make this better as time goes on.

Unfortunately, Google is seemingly not getting much more than goodwill from paid content creators at this point. Ultimately the company will have to participate in revenues or at least in advertising, so it may end up being a net-good for the company. Until then this is just another net-neutral equivalent for the stock.

Jon C. Ogg
September 6, 2006
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