Google to launch paid content service for newspapers
According to La Repubblica, Google is beginning to reach out to publishers to gauge their interest in a micropayment system it has been developing. The system will be linked directly to Google’s search results and will allow consumers to buy paid content directly via Google Checkout with one click. It could provide a valuable revenue boost for cash strapped newspapers.
The launch of Newspass would certainly head off some of criticism that has been levelled at Google by the likes of Rupert Murdoch who dismiss Google’s argument that it sends valuable traffic to newspapers.
Murdoch said last year “We’d rather have fewer people coming to our websites but paying.” And thus you get the strategy behind the paid for TheTimes.co.uk website.
La Repubblica reports that Google has been contacting Italian newspapers Newspass. It is unclear whether the system is something Google is developing locally in Italy where it already faces an investigation by the country’s Competition Authority. The investigation began last year after the Italian Federation of Newspaper Publishers complained about the lack of transparency in how Google News delivers results.
The Italian Federation of Newspaper Publishers complained that Google was using its dominant position to stop publishers from earning their fair share of online ad revenues.
It seems likely, however, that the plan is one Google hopes to launch globally in that it sounds similar to an idea that it proposed to the Newspaper Association of America last year, which looked at how micropayments might be implemented.
According to La Republica, Newspass “is already being tested” and it quotes Henrique de Castro, vice president of Google’s global media saying “For our part there is a willingness to become partners, not opponents.”
The Newspass system will compete with that being developed by Journalism Online, which News Corporation last week bought a stake in along with Skiff.
Google will clearly be looking to take a share of revenue in the same way that Apple does. It will be interesting to see how much Google will be looking to take from newspaper publishers in an effort to win them over.
The report suggests that Google has already indicated to publishers that it will be willing to share data with those who agree to participate in the system. That could prove particularly valuable.
The development of Newspass comes from the script Google has been talking up for over the last year.
Last April Google CEO Eric Schmidt told executives at the Newspaper Association of America convention that that forms of payment for content would come.
Sarah Hunter, Google’s head of public policy in the UK said more recently: “We’ll keep open-minded about how newspapers want to monetise their content. If there is a different model they want to use, then we will work with them on it and do a revenue-sharing deal with them.”
Enter Newspass which comes as several more major newspapers, including The New York Times, prepare to enter the world of paid content.
The interesting question might be is if Google does get this off the ground will it persuade more newspapers to charge for content? As Newspassz is a micropayment based it offers up the possibility of allowing publishers to charge for selective content rather than putting everything behind a paywall.
What certainly appears true is that Google is very keen to hang onto the quality content currently featured on its search results pages and appears to want to find ways to ensure that publishers stay.