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Sept. 14, 2009, 7 p.m.

Google sharing revenue with publishers for new product

An experimental Google product for browsing news will, for the first time, share advertising revenue with participating publishers, the company is announcing this evening. It’s a small but significant shift for Google in its use and monetization of news content.

The new product is Fast Flip, which aggregates content from 40 news organizations, from The New York Times to Redbook, in screenshots that are reminiscent of flipping through a magazine. You can navigate by topic, source, or recommendations. And as Krishna Bharat, the creator of Google News, writes in a press release: “Fast Flip also personalizes the experience for you, by taking cues from selections you make to show you more content from sources, topics and journalists that you seem to like.”

I just briefly played around with a demo and appreciated the fast more than the flip; the mobile version, which I tried on Josh‘s iPhone, is pretty great. But I’ll leave the reviews to others. What’s intriguing to me about Fast Flip is the business model: Display ads are running alongside the content in Fast Flip, and Google is sharing that revenue with the participating publishers.

That’s a marked difference from Google News, where limited advertising experiments haven’t included any revenue sharing, much to the chagrin of newspaper companies. I asked Michael Kirkland, a spokesman for Google, what the different was in this case, and he said, “Google’s interest here is in trying to be a good partner to the news industry and to quality providers of news and try to frankly find ways to help publishers get more out of the web. It’s the first of several different types of experiments, different things we’ll be trying.”

The 40 news organizations participating at launch are mostly magazines, though a few major newspapers are involved as well non-profit investigative outlets like ProPublica and the Center for Public Integrity. “There is a focus on choosing really high-quality news providers,” Kirkland said. Here’s the full list:

BBC News, Billboard, BusinessWeek, Center for Investigative Reporting, Center for Public Integrity, Christian Science Monitor, CosmoGirl, Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Esquire, Fast Company, FRONTLINE, Foreign Policy, Good Housekeeping, Harper’s Bazaar, House Beautiful, Marie Claire, Men’s Journal, National Geographic, National Review Online, New York Times, Newsweek, Popular Mechanics, ProPublica, Quick & Simple, Redbook, SPIN, Salon, Seventeen, Slate, Smithsonian, TechCrunch, Technology Review, Teen, The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, The Daily Green, US Magazine, Veranda, Washington Post

Google is announcing Fast Flip right now at TechCrunch50, the technology conference. News of the product’s release was embargoed.

UPDATE, Tuesday, 7:00 a.m.: Chris Gaither, another spokesman for Google, points out that the company shares revenue with publishers Google News Archive, Google Books, YouTube, and other products. That’s a fair point, so I’ve changed the headline of this post to reflect that this isn’t the first time Google is sharing revenue. As I explain in the post, I was making a distinction between the ad revenue from Google News, which is not shared with publishers, and the revenue from Fast Flip, which will be.

POSTED     Sept. 14, 2009, 7 p.m.
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