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Google Offers Hand to News Publishers

2 October 2017

From The Wall Street Journal:

Google is rolling out a package of new policies and services to help news publishers increase subscriptions, a move likely to warm its icy relationship with some of the biggest critics of its power over the internet.

Google said it will end this week its decade-old “first click free” policy that required news websites to give readers free access to articles from Google’s search results. The policy upset publishers that require subscriptions, believing it undercut their efforts to get readers to pay for news.

Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., said it also plans tools to help increase subscriptions, including enabling users to log in with their Google passwords to simplify the subscription process and sharing user data with news organizations to better target potential subscribers.

With billions of people using its search, YouTube and other web properties, Google has an outsize influence on a wealth of industries and modern society.

. . . .

The new publisher rules are good news for the print industry, which has largely struggled to convert its business model to the internet as print advertising sales have plummeted in the digital age. Google and Facebook dominate the internet ad industry, and news organizations are increasingly reliant on those two tech giants for web traffic. Google says it drives 10 billion clicks a month to publishers’ sites.

Some newspapers even asked Congress this year to exempt them from antitrust laws so they could negotiate collectively with the tech giants.

. . . .

“We really recognize the transition to digital for publishers hasn’t been easy,” Google Chief Business Officer Philipp Schindler said in an interview. He said a strong news industry boosts the utility of Google search and helps Google’s ad business, which sells ads on news sites. “The economics are pretty clear: If publishers aren’t successful, we can’t be successful.”

. . . .

Kinsey Wilson, the former executive editor of USA Today who now advises New York Times Co. , said publishers must be careful about letting Google be the middleman to its readers. “Google can remove some friction,” he said, “but publishers have to stay vigilant.”

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal

Disruptive Innovation, Google

7 Comments to “Google Offers Hand to News Publishers”

  1. Maybe Google can/will add a search that includes the cost of each sites subscription. That way I (and others) can vote with our dollars. (Not really, I expect the sites would scream about as loud as when Amazon removed someone’s discounts.)

    Hopefully at least a little Paywall/Free mark to warn us of where the link goes.

    • I, too, want a warning before clicking. Maybe a dollar sign on links that are for paid subscribers. Have to wonder if news sites are shooting themselves in the foot … ad rates are based on traffic, but I can think of little else that would discourage traffic to a great degree.

      Recently Google stopped letting YouTube videos play on the Echo Show. That is probably part of the changes Google is putting between the surfer and the content provider. According to Amazon, they’re working things out with Google.

      What I’d like to see is a set price for going to whatever sites you want to read/watch, and then a division of that fund going to providers based on their traffic. But I’m not a business woman at the moment, so I’m sure folks here can correct my thinking.

  2. I too would like a warning rather than waste my time clicking on a link that would require me to buy a subscription.

    In lieu of that, how about, under Tools for Searches on Google, adding a category for Free Nonsubscription? We can always remove that and widen our searches if we don’t find what we’re looking for.

  3. > enabling users to log in with their Google passwords

    Typically, when translated into common English such sentences parse to “REQUIRING users to log in with their Google passwords”.

    Most people are familiar with common usages like “Compatible with Microsoft Windows.” Which always means “Only works with Microsoft Windows.”… Maybe not so big a thing now, but an ongoing irritation when Windows was just a menu and font shell over DOS.

    • Or as was discovered two weeks ago at Redquarters, “compatible with Microsoft Windows and Macintosh OS [whatever],” means “pull your hair out when images will not back-up to drive, hunt down website with instructions, come to our site, download a special patch, reboot your computer, and then move photos to back-up drive.” An hour of work later…

  4. 99% of the time I am completely uninterested in clicking a link that brings me to a paywall. Maybe Google has to decide whether they want to appeal to the millions of people using them as their browser or to pacify news organizations. Being able to sign in with my Google credentials means absolutely nothing to me, if it’s a paywall. I am just not interested in subscribing 99% of the time, and would consider it a major disadvantage if I was constantly directed to links requiring a subscription – and irate if it resulted in unintended paid subscriptions.

    • Google is also making changes to their Google Finance section. After about mid-November, they’ll no longer offer their Portfolio feature. It makes it super easy to follow investments, updating in real time and keeping track of gains and losses. They say they’re getting rid of it to make the site better for folks, though I can’t see how eliminating it is improving anything. I’ve been looking for another site that will accomplish the same thing — or close to it — but the privacy policies scare me away. Using Portfolios now does require signing in to Google, but I don’t mind it because I don’t get spammed. I did sign up with another financial site, then got spammed immediately. They had an unsubscribe link, but it was dead.

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