Google Plans Tools to Help News Media Charge for Content

R.A. Hettinga rah at
Thu Sep 10 04:52:25 PDT 2009

Stands to reason. Google's in the advertisement microbilling business

Turn it upside down and you get book-entry micropayments.



- Bits Blog -

SEPTEMBER 9, 2009, 8:51 PM
Google Plans Tools to Help News Media Charge for Content
Update | 11:19 p.m. Added link to Nieman Journalism Lab, which first
publicized the Google filing.

Google is planning to roll out a system of micropayments within the
next year and hopes that newspapers will use it as they look for new
ways to charge users for their content.

The revelation was made in a document that Google sent to the
Newspaper Association of America in response to a request for paid-
content proposals that the association sent to several technology

The Google document, which was first publicized by the Nieman
Journalism Lab, indicates that the micropayment system will be an
extension of Google Checkout, a payment system that Google rolled out
in 2006 and positioned as a competitor to eBays PayPal service, the
leading system for online payments.

While currently in the early planning stages, micropayments will be a
payment vehicle available to both Google and non-Google properties
within the next year, Google wrote. The idea is to allow viable
payments of a penny to several dollars by aggregating purchases across
merchants and over time.
Ten other companies responded to the associations request, including
Microsoft, I.B.M. and Oracle. But Googles plans are particularly
interesting because of the delicate relationship between the newspaper
industry and the company.

In the document, Google said that newspapers could also use Checkout
to charge for subscriptions, but it described the system for managing
the subscriptions as fairly rudimentary.

Newspapers have been grappling with an industrywide financial crisis
that has devastated many dailies. The industry is trying to find new
ways to earn revenue, and several publishers are evaluating ways to
charge for content.

Randy Bennett, senior vice president of business development for the
industry association, said the request for proposals was made
following a meeting of its members in May. He said it is now up to
individual newspapers to decide whether to pursue relationships with
any of the companies that submitted proposals.

Google, which has long relied on advertising for the overwhelming
majority of its revenue, said that it believed that paid content could
be a good complement to advertising.

While we believe that advertising will likely remain the main source
of revenue for most news content, a paid model can serve as an
important source of additional revenue. In addition, a successful paid
content model can enhance advertising opportunities, rather than
replace them, the company wrote.

The Google proposal, if it goes forward, could put the company in
competition with Journalism Online, a venture backed by Steven Brill
and L. Gordon Crovitz, which has recently said that it had tentatively
signed more than 500 newspapers for its services. Those services
include hybrid models for paid content. Journalism Online is one of
the companies that presented a proposal to the association.

In a statement, Google said:

The Newspaper Association of America asked Google to submit some ideas
for how its members could use technology to generate more revenue from
their digital content, and we shared some of those ideas in this
proposal. Its consistent with Googles effort to help publishers
reach bigger audiences, better engage their readers and make more
money. We have always said that publishers have full control over
their content. If they decide to charge for it, well work with them
to ensure that their content can be easily discovered if they want it
to be. As for Checkout, we dont have any specific new services to
announce but were always looking for ways to make payments online
more efficient and user-friendly.

Google has been experimenting with new ways to highlight news content
and new ways to display it.

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