Though I worry about how much power Google wields, I think this is a bad example. EE and its ilk are designed to rank as high as possible on Google specifically. Their whole product was (more or less) SCO - if they could have ranked higher without content, their pages would be empty aside from ads. Their only purpose is to draw eyeballs to ads - if they didn't appear on Google, no one would use them.
Ranking aggregation lower than original sources is a reasonable optimization and the huge traffic impact was caused by the unusual entanglement with Google's specific algorithmic implementation.