A 'Dire Straits' Web barter economy?: Links for nothing, content for free

What does Dire Straits’ “Money For Nothing” have to do with the Web’s economy?The popular refrain “thats the way you do it, Get your money for nothin get your chicks for free,” can be remixed Web 2.
Written by Donna Bogatin, Contributor
What does Dire Straits’ “Money For Nothing” have to do with the Web’s economy?

The popular refrain “thats the way you do it, Get your money for nothin get your chicks for free,” can be remixed Web 2.0 style to reflect the Web's current link barter economy:


Get your links for nothing,
get your content for free,
thats the way you do it.


The Google link barter based business model has spurred it to a $122 billion market cap. In “Google: Web friend or Web foe” I discuss how Google shrewdly barters search engine links for free access to content to garner its hefty profit margins:

The Google revolution is not that it is “organizing the worlds’ information” or that it is providing “targeted, measurable advertising.” The Google revolution is that it has succeeded in portraying itself as a magnanimous business “partner” that delights in showering the Web world with Google link love.

The backlash against the Belgian media for its lawsuit accusing Google of copyright infringement illustrates the conventional Internet wisdom that Google is the Web’s “best friend…

Google is not the Web’s Santa Claus, merrily traveling the “cloud” to bestow free, traffic generating links to Web sites which have been “good.” Google is the Web’s Scrooge, eagerly traveling the “cloud” to appropriate the content spoils of all Web sites and content producers.

If Google were subject to normal business practices and had to pay for its use of the content from the "billions" of Web pages it sells ads against, Google would no longer boast an enviable 25% profit margin.

In “Google speak on copyright: content owners beware” I underscore that Google is the only guaranteed winner in its link barter based business model:

Google dangles promises of bountiful search traffic eagerly clicking on news “headlines” and book “snippets.” Google’s promises of link love, however, are merely ephemeral IOUs, without any tangible, guaranteed return on copyright exploitation.

What is certain, however, is that Google gains no-cost access to content, which it can sell ads against.

The Google link barter model is being emulated throughout the Web.

“Seeking Alpha” recently touted the virtues of the Web’s link barter economy in announcing its distribution agreement with Yahoo Finance:

Exposure for Stock Market Bloggers and Money Managers

Our partnership with Yahoo! Finance proves that the combination of Seeking Alpha and an army of informed finance bloggers can change the face of financial publishing.

For Seeking Alpha's contributors and for bloggers in general, this is a big day. Our contributors write for a variety of reasons: to build their reputations, test their stock ideas in an interactive environment, demonstrate the quality of their stock picking or analytical skills, or to promote their newsletters, consulting practices or other businesses.

Our discussion with Yahoo! started from a simple premise: blogs link out, and on Seeking Alpha there's a link to the author in the first three words of every post that allows readers to discover the author's blog, business, resume, contact info -- or all of these.

Yahoo! understood this. Bloggers' posts therefore appear on Yahoo! Finance with exactly the same links that appear on Seeking Alpha. As a result, our contributors' articles, names, photos and links to their blogs or web sites will now be available to tens of millions of Yahoo! Finance readers, and they'll get more exposure and traffic than they ever dreamed of.

Are the dreams of bloggers, writers and content creators and owners really primarily about intangible “exposure” and “traffic,” or would tangible cash be the best thing to wake up to?

A Seeking Alpha free content contributor, Debra Fiakas was cited recently in Crain's New York, “Site links investors with stock bloggers.”

Fiakis is described as a former research director with 20 years of Wall Street experience who recently created her own equity research service:

She says that since she started sending articles to Seeking Alpha three months ago, traffic to her fledgling firm’s Web site has increased by at least 20%.

She figures that traffic will eventually turn into paying subscribers for her research.

Crain's also asserts: “More attention on Wall Street invariably leads to more money.”

If the Web's link barter economy induced attention “invariably” leads to more money, Google would not be the only $122 billion market cap Web company in town.

ALSO SEE: "YouTube barter economy: Where is the cash?"

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