Tuesday, May 28

Under the Google News Initiative spend $300m



Google has become the latest technology giant to offer an olive branch to media publishers, unveiling a $300m (£215m) three-year plan to revive an industry critics say it played a role in stifling.

Under the Google News Initiative, the company said it would be rolling out new features to help boost publishers’ subscription numbers and provide them with better tools to analyse and understand their readership.

Among these is the Subscribe with Google feature, where users will be able to subscribe to a number of news publications, and pay for access to their content, through Google accounts.

Google said it will take a cut of the revenue from the subscriptions generated through its feature, but said the vast majority of that revenue will go to the publishers.

According to Bloomberg, the vast majority referred to by Google would be between 85pc and 95pc.

Philipp Schindler, Google’s chief business officer, said the goal would be to “ease the subscription process” for readers.

While the demand for quality journalism is as high as it’s ever been, the business of journalism is under pressure, as publications around the world face challenges from an industry-wide transition to digital, he added.

One of the largest challenges publishers have faced in this shift to digital has been the loss of a key revenue stream, as readers, and so advertising spending, move online, where internet giants Facebook and Google have swallowed up market share.

Data from analysts Pivotal showed Facebook and Google account for around 60pc of digital advertising spend in the UK and around 75pc in the US, prompting some to argue that the pair are operating a digital duopoly.

Just last month, News Corp, which is behind The Times, The Sun and The Wall Street Journal titles, posted a 7pc decline in advertising revenue for the final quarter of 2017, while the recent tie-up between Trinity Mirror and the owner of The Star and The Express was partly seen as an attempt to claw back some vital advertising revenue through consolidation.

Because of this a number of media organisations, including The Daily Telegraph and The Financial Times, have shifted their business models to subscription-based services.

Google’s Schindler, in a statement on Tuesday, said the company needed to do more to support journalism, not least because of the rise of fake news.

Bad actors often target breaking news on Google platforms, increasing the likelihood that people are exposed to inaccurate content, he said.

Google said its new features would also promote accurate articles from verified news sources, and that it was launching a project to improve digital information literacy for young consumers.

It is the latest gambit from a technology company to ward off criticism that they are helping to spread misinformation.

Facebook launched its own project last year, in which it unveiled a similar package of measures, including testing business models for publishers and running a campaign to help users spot fake news.