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Google has launched a three-year US$300 million initiative called Google News Initiative designed to help news organizations improve their journalism, create new business models and upgrade their technology, according to Benjamin Mullin, writing for the Wall Street Journal.
The move is seen as Google’s peace offering to the publishing industry, which has criticized the former due to its monopoly over digital advertising, user data, and news distribution and its role in the proliferation of fake news. Previously, Google had terminated its “first click free” program that allowed users to get past paywalls and read news articles without having to pay for it. Joining Google as partners in the new initiative are the Financial Times, Gannett, the New York Times, the Washington Post and Le Figaro.
As part of the initiative, Google rolled out a program called Subscribe with Google, aimed at helping publishers derive more revenues from digital subscriptions. The new program will incorporate a feature that will appear on its search result pages focusing on stories found in publications to which a user subscribes. The feature will not affect ranking on Google’s search pages.
The online search giant is also simplifying the subscription process to allow consumers to subscribe to multiple news publications. Users can use their Google login credentials when signing on to various news subscriptions and prevent them from hitting paywalls, particularly when changing devices.
Google is also developing software that will allow publishers to predict the probability that a user will subscribe based on data and machine-learning models culled from its DoubleClick ad-serving technology. By being able to identify potential subscribers, publishers can target them with the right offer at the right time. The company has also developed a new tool called flexible sampling that allows publishers to modify the number of free articles that Google users can read.