Spanish news sites struggle following Google News removal

17 Dec 2014

Spanish news sites are desperately trying to ease advertisers’ fears after they have seen an immediate drop in traffic following the closure of the Spanish Google News site.

Under the new Spanish copyright law, even the smallest piece of text reproduced on another site would see the original news site receive a royalty, which has effectively ended any aggregator website used in the country, including Google News.

Despite Google News being attached to one of the largest companies in the world, search giant Google, the online aggregator does not receive a budget and therefore cannot afford to issue royalties to Spanish sites, but according to Gigaom, the original news sites themselves will be reeling after seeing an immediate drop in traffic.

According to data Gigaom obtained from Chartbeat that is able to track 50 various-sized publishers in Spain, the day after Google News pulled out of Spain, a drop of between 10pc and 15pc in web traffic was recorded, compared with the same time as the previous week.

Data shows the drop-off in page views following the withdrawal of Google News in Spain. Image via Gigaom/Chartbeat

Creating an insular media sphere

However, from Chartbeat’s data, it appears the withdrawal of Google News from Spain has effectively created an isolated news sphere within the country, as the largest affected audience is from outside Spain, yet traffic linked from internal Spanish publishers has actually risen.

All of Spain’s major publishers have now begun pleading with the Spanish government for intervention in the face of this serious drop-off, but have refrained from asking for a complete U-turn on the idea of asking for royalties if content is accessed from another site.

Those trying to access the Spanish Google News site are now just presented with a message from Google explaining its decision to back out.

“This legislation requires every Spanish publication to charge services like Google News for showing even the smallest snippet from their publications, whether they want to or not. As Google News itself makes no money (we do not show any advertising on the site) this new approach was not sustainable,” said the statement.

Online news image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic