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Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Spain: Did the “Google Tax” really change the market?

In the not-so-very-distant past, the IPKat welcomed a guest blogpost, "Copyright in Spain: a month without Google News", from his Spanish friend Míchel Olmedo Cuevas.  Now the same author is back with further news which rather suggests that, irrespective of the sensational headlines, life goes on ...

Did the “Google Tax” really change the market?

The tail of a snippet ...
As Eleonora Rosati explained last December and I further discussed a few weeks ago, Google ceased offering “Google News” in Spain three months ago today, following a controversial amendment to the Spanish Intellectual Property Act 1/1996, adding to its text a new provision regulating the snippets shown by news aggregation services when indexing content from Spanish newspapers.

Reactions to this reform were mixed.  Some folk adopted strong positions against the new regulation on snippets (eg Ricardo Galli, founder of Menéame, one of the most important news aggregators in Spain), while others celebrated a victory, saying they'd do it all over again (that was the response of the Spanish Newspapers Editors Association, AEDE). It seems clear that both sides had their arguments, even though those against the new law are in the majority, it being currently impossible to find any website supporting the “Google Tax” among the first pages of search results on Google Spain, and only a few results in Google's international version.

So, after the brief introduction we had in January, it is now time to go through the most recent data and try to find out how much this new situation has changed the scenario for the Spanish newspapers.

According to the latest data, after the losses they suffered in January, which varied between 3% and 9% for the major Spanish online newspapers (as you can see from the data shared by prnoticias, in Spanish, here), the written online media keeps losing visitors, but the rate is now slower, settling dwn at around 4% and 6% for all newspapers sites, except for elpais.es, as prnoticias reported last week.

The numbers shown by the Spanish media sites prove that, even though there has been an undeniable decrease in their traffic figures, the impact has been significantly smaller than in Germany, where media giant Axel Springer penned a deal to get back into Google News, after losing a high amount of their visitors, that came directly from Google News, a situation that many feared would be repeated in Spain. However, on the contrary, it seems that the Spanish experience is closer to that of Brazil, where national newspapers amounting for 90% of the traffic dropped out of Google News almost three years ago, and do not seem to lbe ooking to make a comeback since, according to the newspapers association, only 5% of overall traffic was lost, after 135 out of 154 newspapers decided to leave the news aggregation service provided by Google.

This being a family weblog,
Merpel asked La Chica
to pose behind a tree ...
One reason why the losses in Spain have not been so significant might be because use of Google News was low in the first place, with other platforms such as Menéame, which is still active, accounting for a higher number of users. Other explanations could be that Spaniards prefer to check the whole website of their favourite newspapers (or maybe some specific sections, such as “La Chica de AS”, from the sports newspaper AS, similar to The Sun’s famous Page Three Girls) -- or it could be that they still choose traditionally printed newspapers, instead of the digital version. Whatever the reason for these figures is, the cold fact is that the closure of Google News has not made any significant changes in the Spanish market, at least for the moment.

The final chapter of this story will take place in four to five months, when the “fees” for this tax should be agreed between CEDRO (Spanish Collective Management Entity in charge of collecting this so-called “tax”) and the main representatives of the industry (supposedly, both newspapers and aggregators) and the first monthly charge will be due.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Re the purchasing of printed newspapers vs online viewing in Spain, are there no figures for Spanish sales of printed newspapers?

Ron said...

Teh proprietors of El Mundo certainly published its circulation figures, broken down by readership and numbers of physical newspapers issued, for both the national and its c=various regional issued, Go to their website and scroll down to the very bottom of the page to the tag "Publicidad", select the newspaper of interest, and you will find the circulation figures, figures that will of course be of particular interest to would- be advertisers. The current link to the circulation figures is as follows:

http://www.unidadeditorial.com/publicidad/Prensa/el%20mundo%20edicion%20nacional.html

Today's figures are 156,172 for the national issue (205553 on Sundays) and a total of 116,280 for the seven regional issues, a total of 272,452 physical papers on weekdays.

Possibly the web sites of the other Spanish newspapers provide similar information, but I haven't checked.

Anonymous said...

Printed media in Spain, as in most of the world, has been in decline for the past years. The raw data can be found in the following link: http://www.aimc.es/-Datos-EGM-Resumen-General-.html
The losses in online readership can have several reasons but migration to printed newspaper does not appear to be one of them...

Míchel Olmedo said...

Thank you both for your input!

Those numbers are indeed out, but they are still based on 2014 numbers and will not be updated, presumably after the first trimester is gone.

When 2015 figures come out, we will see the real numbers online newspapers are against and how much change there has been in that market.

Míchel Olmedo said...

Anonymus:

I didn't mean that they migrated to printed newspapers, I meant readers who never switched to online, which there are plenty, mostly in regard to major newspapers, that have a higher penetration rate on those aged 35+.

Younger generations, on the other hand, would rather have as their source of information social networks (such as Twitter) or TV News.

More information on that topic can be found in this study http://www.unav.edu/documents/3786985/0/Reuters-Institute-Digital-News-Report-2014-Espana.pdf

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