Google announced that it will pay news publishers for "high quality content" with the launch of a "new news experience" later this year. The move marks a major departure for Google, which has so far steadfastly refused to compensate news publishers for content. With news organizations dropping digital advertising revenue, media critics and even many politicians have put pressure on Google to pay for content licensing.
Many details of the new program remain unclear. However, as the news industry is further weakened by the economic consequences of the corona virus, potential earnings are likely to be welcomed.
"A vibrant news industry is important – perhaps more than ever, when people search for information they can rely on in a global pandemic and growing concern about racial injustices around the world," said Brad Bender, vice president of news for Google wrote in a blog post. “However, these events take place at a time when the news industry is also facing financial challenges. It is very important to us to provide access to information and to support the publishers who report on these important topics. "
In recent years, large platforms and technology companies have tried to partner with news publishers. Last year, Apple launched Apple News +, a subscription service that provides access to more than 300 publications. And Facebook has launched several programs for news organizations, including recently a $ 100 million fund to support news agencies.
Google has also launched initiatives to help news organizations optimize their revenue in the digital age. These include the Google News Lab, the Google News training initiativeand more recently his emergency aid fund for news organizations.
There is not much evidence that such partnerships have had a significant impact on news agencies' bottom line. Google and Facebook have practically become a duopoly that controls digital advertising space and makes it difficult for online news companies to succeed. Google can also expect skepticism about this new company.
For more than a decade, publishers, especially in Europe, have been complaining that Google is wrongly benefiting from their content by showing clippings in search results and Google News. Some European countries have asked Google to pay to license this content. This has resulted in the company either shutting down local versions of Google News or removing snippets.
Last year, the European Union passed a controversial copyright law, which included, among other things, a “link tax”, according to which platforms have to pay publishers if they display extracts from content. In April, the French competition authority decided on Google must pay for news content.
Until recently, Google insisted that content not be paid for, and it is not clear what led to this sudden U-turn. Of course, the scope of the new program will initially be limited. Bender wrote that the company "will begin publishing in a number of countries around the world, with more to follow shortly." This already includes partnerships with publishers in Germany (Spiegel Group), Australia and Brazil.
"This program will help participating publishers monetize their content through an enhanced storytelling experience that enables people to delve deeper into more complex stories, stay informed, and be exposed to a world of different topics and interests," Bender wrote.
This new service will be available in Google News and Discover first, but may include a general search. The good news for consumers is that this new product offers free access to paid items through its license agreement. Bender said the goal is to help readers discover high quality news and hopefully promote subscriptions.
"Together with other companies, governments and civil society organizations, we are committed to helping news companies," wrote Bender. "Today's company illustrates this and we look forward to what we can all achieve together."