I was looking around at some of the blog posts and news articles on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, including one at Compete about traffic flows on Cyber Monday, and as usual I wound up at Google News doing a search for the term Cyber Monday. What came up was a cluster of almost 700 articles with one from CNet at the top.
Directly underneath the story cluster, however, was a comment balloon, indicating that Google News had added a comment from someone involved in the story, as the site started doing earlier this year in an attempt to add balance to the news that it presents (a curiously journalistic approach for a search engine). The Cyber Monday comment was one of the first ones I’ve come across “in the wild,” so I took a snapshot of the page. As it turned out, there were actually three comments:
One comment is from the chief retail analyst at NPD Group, a research firm, a second is from the executive director at Shop.org — where they have put together a page with hundreds of Black Friday deals, and a third comment comes from a retail analyst at Forrester Research.
What purpose does this serve? I’m not sure. The NPD analyst is actually quoted in some of the retail stories I came across, but his comment on the Google News page is substantially longer than any of his quotes in news stories; does that add value? Perhaps. The Shop.org comment seems fairly blatantly promotional, which makes you wonder why Google bothered. And the Forrester comment — which is quite short — arguably adds something to the story, but not a huge amount.
Will many people read those comments? And if they do, will it add to their understanding of the story in a way that a simple quote in a news article wouldn’t? I wish I knew.