In a sharp about-face, Google has announced that it will start paying certain news publishers for content.
The company says it will pay publishers for in-depth content, and will also license paywalled articles on publishers’ sites to make them free for users to access. The service will be available through Google News and Discover.
Google plans to start with media groups in Australia, Brazil and Germany, with others to follow soon.
“Today, we are announcing a licensing program to pay publishers for high-quality content for a new news experience launching later this year,” says Google vice president for news Brad Bender.
“This program will help participating publishers monetize their content through an enhanced storytelling experience that lets people go deeper into more complex stories, stay informed and be exposed to a world of different issues and interests.”
The first tranche of publishers to sign up with Google are Germany’s Der Spiegel, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Die Zeit and Rheinische Post, Australia’s Schwartz Media, The Conversation and Solstice Media, and Brazil’s Diarios Associados and A Gazeta.
“With local news under stress, finding new channels and new audiences for our premium content, in safe and curated environments, is a high priority,” says Paul Hamra, managing director and publisher of Australian news titles including InQueensland and InDaily in South Australia.
“This opportunity will give us access to new markets and provide additional commercial benefits.”
The announcement is a major reverse for Google, which has spent years – and millions of dollars – fighting publishers and regulators over whether or not it should pay for content displayed in Google News.
Recently, though, France’s competition authority ordered the company to pay local media organizations for content, and Australia is planning to force it to share advertising revenue with local publishers.
In the past, Google has responded to such orders by removing the news ‘snippets’ it normally displays, or simply shutting down the local Google News service.
And the company is still defending its policy of refusing to pay for snippets, with Bender claiming: “Over the years, we’ve built audiences and driven economic value for publishers by sending people to news sites over 24 billion times a month, giving publishers the opportunity to offer ads or subscriptions and increase the audience for their content.”