News International will allow the first two sentences in articles on The Times and The Sunday Times websites to show up on search engines, in hopes of attracting new subscribers, the Telegraph reported today.
The Times began blocking search engines in May 2010 when it put up its digital paywall, paidContent noted.
The newspapers worry that “exclusion is limiting their influence and driving down advertising revenues. Sources claim the change was a ‘marketing exercise’,” the Telegraph article explained.
Before the paywall was put in place, Times editor James Harding said that 30 to 40 percent of the newspaper’s traffic came from search, according to paidContent. So, although a significant amount of traffic was lost after the paywall, it allowed the paper to focus on attracting loyal readers and ignore so-called “drive-by traffic.”
The move shows that Google and other search engines are not exactly “parasites,” after all, as Rupert Murdoch has called them. Rather, they bring in “prospective-customer leads.”