Ancillary Copyright Law: How Much Journalistic Content is Found In Google Search?

The back-story to the ancillary copyright law in the EU, aimed at protecting publishers from content re-use, is long and complex. Some of its roots were set in Germany over 20 years ago and today, despite an agreed EU law, it’s still being argued. We have been following this since the start and have just released the third data study on how much search content is actually journalistic, and how much of that has a commercial opportunity for Google.

SISTRIX data analysis.

As in 2012 and most recently in 2019, we have used our data to answer the question of how relevant journalistic content is for Google in the search results. 

To start, we created a list of domains that publish content via Google News. This list was then cleaned of domains that obviously do not publish any journalistic content. In total, 1,412 journalistic domains are left – around 200 more domains than in the 2019 evaluation.

Based on this list and our database of search results in Germany, we then carried out the evaluations shown below. Overall, SISTRIX evaluates the search results for 100 million different keywords (search queries) in Germany. The database is representative of search behaviour in Germany and is continuously updated.

0.25% of commercial search terms have journalistic presence

The first question that we answered, based on the data, was what percentage of the search terms on Google are mostly journalistic and at the same time commercially relevant for Google? The answer is a very low 0.25%, unchanged from the previous study.

Commercially valuable searches are defined as ones with Google Ads running on them. Using the information already in our databases, we were also able to filter the searches to find those which had 50% or more entries from journalistic domains in the top 10, the first page of the search results.

In 2019 we also did the study with Europe-wide data which showed that an even lower percentage of search results were commercially relevant – 0.11%

3.09% of search terms journalistic

Also analysed, was the percentage of search terms that presented journalistic content, in total. Again, defining a journalistic result as having 50% of more of the journalistic domains in it, we filtered our database.

Only 3.09% of all the search terms have a journalistic presence. Compered to the German data we analysed in 2019 this is around one-third less than in 2019, when we found that 4.65% of search terms have a journalistic presence. The change also suggest that domains that do not follow a classic, journalistic approach have gained visibility in recent years.

Our study in 2019 showed that, using European data, 2.65% of search results had a journalistic presence.

8.86% of all results from predominantly journalistic domains

Here the percentage has increased slightly compared to the 2019 study as it has risen from 7.89% to 8.86%. Given that the numbers of journalistic focused page 1 results are falling, there’s a likelihood that domains from the list of primarily journalistic domains continued to publish content during this period, but this content does not rank on the first search results page.

Recent click rate analysis shows that rankings on page 2 and beyond are significantly less valuable than rankings on page 1.

Our study in 2019, with Europe-wide data, showed that 10.18% of all search results were from journalistic domains.

Other countries in Europe

The EU law, and a similar attempt in the UK, do not appear to have changed Google’s stance. In addition, across Austria and Switzerland the results were comparable. While there may be some countries that have larger variations, the underlying message is clear:

  • The number of journalistic searches which have commercial significance, is extremely low.
  • Journalistic search results appear in a low percentage of search terms, and this figure has fallen since the previous study.

Conclusion

This never-ending story across Europe is still playing out between Google and the lawmakers but the fact is that news content is not commercially relevant for Google in search results. As we said in 2019, when push comes to shove, Google will be able to live without these results in their search results.

The original article, in German, is available here.

The 2019 study is available (in English with Europe-wide data) here.

Related posts