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Feb. 16, 2018, 11:47 a.m.
Business Models
LINK: twitter.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Shan Wang   |   February 16, 2018

Hey, Google — how do we solve the news industry’s various revenue problems?

Google gave a preview of some features it’s been working on and thinking about regarding its support for subscription news organizations at its Digital News Initiative Summit on Thursday (on the same day it also rolled out a built-in adblocker in its Chrome browsers).

The search platform and digital advertising giant also announced that it would be opening its fifth round of DNI funding at the end of this month; the theme of the upcoming round will be diversifying revenue models.

Most relevant for the increasing number of news publishers focusing on getting readers to pay for subscriptions is how Google intends to treat publishers with paywalls. It’s already ended the longtime first-click-free loophole and has been working with a couple of major subscription news publishers on potential tools for publishers over the past year. Now we know a bit more about how subscription outlets might be treated within the Google Search environment:

Google has been successful in encouraging publishers to get in line with its totally voluntary Accelerated Mobile Pages project, though, as Lucia Moses at Digiday points out, there’s quite a lot of pressure coming from how these faster, AMP-enabled pages are ranked in search results. Referral traffic from Google Search has been up more than 25 percent since January 2017, according to a recent Chartbeat analysis of its network — a 100 percent year-over-year increase in mobile search traffic from Google on AMP-enabled sites (traffic from search on desktop hasn’t increased at all). This week, Google also announced a new Snapchat Story–like format that it’s been testing with several large partner publishers.

It also wants to work with local news outlets on its hyperlocal news-sharing app, Bulletin, which it’s testing Nashville and Oakland:

Publishers were also asking for a lot more:

By all means, demand away! But always be wary before jumping into experiments with platforms like Google and Facebook. Campbell Brown’s candid response during this week’s Code Media conference was instructive on that front:

I think we have not done a great job in the past and we need to think about this differently going forward around setting expectations when we launch a test with a set of partners. It’s really thrash-y and really unsettling for people who are trying to have some stability so they can build a business…we have to be way more transparent and candid with publishers going in that this may not work out. And jump in with us if you’re ready for a big experiment that might not work!

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