Recently, I delivered a keynote address to a conclave of graduate students and alumni at the Annenberg School For Communication, at USC.
Among other things, I railed against the new marketing that insists that publications should be free, as the New York Times and several big city newspapers are, now, online.
(I know. Advertising is supposed to pay the freight, but will it? I have my doubts.)
I chatted after my prepared remarks with an administrator. She brought up a very interesting question:
“If you had to pay for Google searches, would you do so?”
After a little screaming and kicking and whining, I replied I would, especially if other search engines followed suit, and charged for their use.
Is searching as valuable to you, and to the mega-millions of folks that do it on a daily basis?
The administrator’s comments led to an even more interesting prediction. If Google started charging, this could lead to the monetization of what is now considered free content on the web.
For instance, at present, I have posted more than 1,500 hundred articles that have been published in nearly 25,000 web publications. My “pay” is indirect.
Because of my significant web presence and search engine ranking, I receive professional speaking inquiries, consulting leads, and negotiation, sales and customer service training requests, with considerable frequency.
But if Google charged a fee, it could pass along some of that click income to me, as people selected my writings for their edification and pleasure.
I’d welcome the extra income!
Equally important, it might counteract the ubiquity of free writing that is dampening demand for compensated contributions, much to the chagrin of professional and aspiring journalists and the publications that use them.