After all is said and done Rupert Murdoch may still be seen as the sly old fox that really knew best. Many bloggers and journalists have pounded the insanity of Murdoch's suggestion that News Corp publications might strike an exclusive indexing deal with Bing and delist itself from Google's search engine.
However, what if Murdoch was really only talking about the Wall Street Journal and not all News Corp publications? Then the idea might actually make a lot of sense.
According to Compete.com WSJ.com already receives the largest percentage of its traffic from Microsoft' (18.74%). This is contrary to many sites which typically receive the majority of their referrals from Google, often many times more than what Microsoft delivers. Yahoo provides another 6.3% and since Bing will likely be owning Yahoo's search business that means Microsoft is actually delivering 25% of the Wall Street Journals current traffic.
If Rupert Murdoch can get Microsoft to pay possibly as much as $50 million or more a year to lose just 11.5% of his Google traffic sent to WSJ.com the deal makes a lot of sense.
According to Hitwise Google and Google News combined deliver approximately 26% of WSJ.com visitors. However, even with this larger percentage (vs. Compete's) Hitwise notes in a blog post why this might not be as much of a traffic loss as it appears:
Analyzing Google search terms driving traffic to the Journal, the top 100 terms accounted for over 21.6% of all Google search traffic to WSJ.com. Of that 21.6%, 13.4% were navigational or brand searches (e.g. "Wall Street Journal," "WSJ," "WSJ.com" etc...). Even if Murdoch decides to block Google, these navigational search queries will most likely remain intact.
Of the remaining 8.2%, the majority of searches were for stock quotes, and general business related searches. Most specific news related searches fill-out the long tail of search queries. While the Journal may lose traffic if it ceases to cooperate with Google the loss may be less then anticipated.
From Bing's perspective Wall Street Journal exclusivity not only differentiates Bing from Google but it could also help change its image as a more consumer focused search engine. The Wall Street Journal is the most read business publication in the World and this deal could go a long way toward modifying Bing's consumer image in the minds of business executives.
After all, a click resulting from a B2B oriented search term usually demands a premium price, which could help offset Bing's cost of paying Murdoch for exclusive inclusion.