Stick it up your paywall: Guardian rolls out new content plugin

EDIT: This literally never worked on any of my blogs. Neat idea, poor execution.

The Guardian has launched a new WordPress plugin that allows self-hosted bloggers to reprint content from newspaper’s website.

The Guardian News Feed plugin is surely designed to act as a direct counterpoint to talk of paywalls and charging for newspaper content and is an extension of the Grauniad’s Open Platform system, which allows people who sign up to access the paper’s massive databanks and develops apps based on it via an API.

There are over 1m articles available published as far back as 1999 available through the plugin, which theoretically looks quite simple, and users can do pretty much anything they want with the articles, so long as they leave the actual content and code alone.

This is pretty much an ultimate expression of the idea of content as online currency – exchanging content, apps or services for traffic, leads and revenue.

In this case, the Guardian content is exchanged for increased traffic, backlinks, harvested data and ad revenues, leading to more exposure, brand equity, SEO juice and cash.

A screenshot of the Guardian News Feed plugin back-end

It’s hard to see a downside for The Guardian. By signing up and republishing articles from the site I had to enter more data about myself and every Guardian article reprinted on my blog gets more backlinks, domain authority and ad clicks for the paper’s website.

Depending on what they do with anchor text and ads, they can probably pull off targeted SEO campaigns and ad campaigns too. Now multiply that by potentially hundreds of thousands of blogs around the world.

In return I get a nifty new toy to play with, potentially higher traffic and – arguably – a little more authority. If I’m clever and use the articles well I could even get a boost in search engines and ad revenues too, if I displayed ads on my blogs.

The exchange is complete, both parties have something of value. It sounds like a win-win situation, and it’s a great way to further leverage the latent value in the Guardian’s article bank, by doing virtually nothing on an ongoing basis.

Already some on Twitter have started to voice their scorn about the plugin. And, really, what we have here is a very clever form of inbound marketing, using the Grauniad’s massive and powerful archive of content – it’s simply leveraging that content to make money in the same way that Murdoch is trying to leverage The Times’ content via a paywall.

Whereas The Times uses content for more explicit transaction – using content as a currency to generate cash directly, the Guardian’s more elegant approach delivers all sorts of other benefits, besides revenues – brand equity, SEO authority, increased engagement – albeit somewhat nebulous and of indeterminate cash value.

But it’s a smart bit of PR too – while everyone was talking about News International’s attempts to place more value on its content by charging for access, The Guardian is throwing its content out to whomever wants to use it; it can be sold as a direct, and opposite, move to that of Murdoch.

Finally, I’d hoped to include an article using the news feed below, but I can’t get it to work – probably something to do with my host I suspect. Which just goes to show that even the simplest, most elegant, ideas can be undermined by a lack of technical nous or user error.

Go here for instructions and more deetails