Alphabet Inc.’s CEO, Sundar Pichai has said that Google will pay $1 billion to publishers globally for their news over the next three years.
The fight to get Google to pay publishers for content has raged for years and there was news in February that Google was in talks with publishers with a view to buying in premium news content for its own news services to improve its relationship with EU publishers and to combat fake news. At the time Google was believed to be talking with publishers outside the U.S. in order expand its News Initiative (https://newsinitiative.withgoogle.com/), the program where Google works with journalists, news organisations, non-profits and entrepreneurs to ensure that fake news is effectively filtered out of current stories in the ‘digital age’.
Google News Showcase
This latest announcement by Sundar Pichai confirms that Google will now be paying publishers to create and curate high-quality content for what Google is calling its ‘Google News Showcase’. This new product will launch in Germany first, where Google will be paying German newspapers such as Der Spiegel, Stern, Die Zeit, and in then in Brazil where Google will be paying Folha de S.Paulo, Band and Infobae for content. Further similar roll-outs of paid-for content as part of the Google News Showcase will then take place in Belgium, India, the Netherlands, and other countries.
It has been reported that so far, 200 publishers in Argentina, Australia, Britain, Brazil, Canada, and Germany have signed up to the product.
Sundar Pichai says that the financial commitment Google is making to publishers is “our biggest to date”.
Publishers Choose Which Stories
Although Google is in competition with other tech giants who provide their own fact-checked, moderated, unbiased, and curated news services e.g. Facebook’s ‘News’ tab on its mobile app, Google says that its News Showcase will be different because it allows the publishers to pick and present their own choice of stories.
As may be expected, Google’s News Showcase will launch on Google News on Android devices first and eventually on Apple devices.
Back in August, Australia’s competition regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, drafted a code of conduct to allow news companies to negotiate bloc payments with tech giants such as Facebook and Google for the content which appears in their news feeds and search results.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
The mixed reaction which followed Google’s announcement highlights the main concerns of media businesses. On the one hand, as identified by News Corp’s CEO Robert Thomson, there is a feeling that premium journalism is finally being recognised, valued and paid-for as it should, and that Google may be establishing an important “principle and the precedent” for the future. Others in Europe, however, such as the European Publishers Council (EPC) are more sceptical saying that Google’s product may be simply a way to dictate terms and conditions and possibly to undermine the legislation that’s been designed to create conditions for fair negotiation. Google also still has some way to go in its negotiations with French and Australian publishers, both of which may prove more of a challenge going forward.