News Corp’s Robert Thomson: ‘The digital world is dysfunctional’

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Robert Thomson, CEO of News Corp, says platforms need to change their ways to benefit publishers’ long-term business models, but he doesn’t let publishers off the hook, either. Our recent conversation has been lightly edited and condensed. Continue reading “News Corp’s Robert Thomson: ‘The digital world is dysfunctional’”

Cheatsheet: How Europe is moving to regulate Google and Facebook

Government authorities have faced mounting pressure to regulate technology platforms across the world. This week, an independent watchdog recommended U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May introduce two new laws that would see platforms like Google and Facebook face similar regulations to publishers. Add to that the ongoing antitrust cases in Europe and accusations of spreading Russian propaganda, and platforms have been faced with more government intervention than they could have anticipated. Here’s what you need to know about how governments are trying to control the ways platforms conduct business in Europe. Continue reading “Cheatsheet: How Europe is moving to regulate Google and Facebook”

‘Facebook is not transparent:’ NY Times CEO Mark Thompson says the platform’s role needs to be clearer

This article appears in the latest issue of Digiday magazine, a quarterly publication that is part of Digiday+. Members of Digiday+ get access to exclusive content, original research and member events throughout the year. Learn more here

Mark Thompson, CEO of The New York Times Co., discussed the Times’ increased focus on the consumer, its approach to the platform giants and why he has faith the digital ad mess will get cleaned up. Our recent conversation has been lightly edited and condensed. Continue reading “‘Facebook is not transparent:’ NY Times CEO Mark Thompson says the platform’s role needs to be clearer”

Digital News Initiative: €20 million of funding for innovation in news

In October 2015, as part of our Digital News Initiative (DNI)—a partnership between Google and news publishers in Europe to support high-quality journalism through technology and innovation—we launched the €150 million DNI Innovation Fund. Today, we’re announcing the recipients of the fourth round of funding, with 102 projects in 26 European countries being offered €20,428,091 to support news innovation projects. This brings the total funding offered so far to €94 million.

In this fourth round, we received 685 project submissions from 29 countries. Of the 102 projects funded today, 47 are prototypes (early stage projects requiring up to €50,000 of funding), 33 are medium-sized projects (requiring up to €300,000 of funding) and 22 are large projects (requiring up to €1 million of funding).

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Continue reading “Digital News Initiative: €20 million of funding for innovation in news”

Google reclaims title of top traffic referrer, and search-focused publishers are enjoying the moment

Search-focused publishers are having an I-told-you-so moment now that Google is once again publishers’ biggest source of referral traffic. On Dec. 11, Googlepar data showing that Google now accounts for 44 percent of referral traffic for publishers made its way across the internet. That share represented a 10-point swing from the start of the year, when Facebook accounted for 40 percent, and Google accounted for 34 percent; Facebook now accounts for 26 percent. Continue reading “Google reclaims title of top traffic referrer, and search-focused publishers are enjoying the moment”

Improving Search and discovery on Google

Search is not just about answering your questions—it’s also about discovery. We search to explore new topics of interest, to find new angles to ideas or things we think we already know, or even to uncover information that we didn’t even think to ask about.

Over the years, we’ve developed many features to help you discover more on your journeys through the web, starting with related searches almost 10 years ago, to more recent additions such as related questions (Related questions are labeled “People also ask” in search results). In the last few weeks, we’ve made three new additions to help you explore further, including expanded Featured Snippets, improved functionality of Knowledge Panels, and suggested content as you search for a particular topic.

Continue reading “Improving Search and discovery on Google”

Google and Salesforce sign massive strategic partnership

Google and Salesforce announced a massive strategic partnership today that’s aimed at driving value across their mutual customers. As part of the deal, Salesforce plans to use Google Cloud Platform infrastructure as a preferred partner to power the tech titan’s international expansion. Google, for its part, will use Salesforce as its preferred CRM provider for selling its cloud services.

Continue reading “Google and Salesforce sign massive strategic partnership”

“Exceedingly generous”: Google will split revenue with publishers who use its new subscription tools

Google, an advertising giant, has been making nice with news publishers by developing a series of tools they can use to more precisely attract and target paid subscribers. (It also ended the first-click-free policy this month, allowing subscription-based publishers to choose how many articles to show to readers for free without search-ranking consequence.)

Google’s nice comes at a small business price for any publishers who might want to use the planned subscription tools, but the details are still being ironed out with publishers.

“It will obviously come down to what we think that business relationship should be, but bottom line, I think [revenue sharing] will be exceedingly generous [to news publishers],” Google’s head of news Richard Gingras told the Financial Times on Sunday. “In our ad environment, the rev shares are 70 per cent-plus. The rev shares [for publishers] will be significantly more generous than that.” (Google’s AdSense offers around a 70-30 split for publishers who use it to place ads on their sites.)

Gingras made sure to distinguish Google’s tack from Facebook’s “walled garden” approach, telling the FT that “unlike other participants in the environment, we’re not trying to own the publisher. If there are cases where we do cause the subscription to happen, we don’t want to own the customer. None of this changes the marketplace economics, people will pay for what they value.”

That “other participant in the environment” on Friday formally announced its test of news subscriptions models within its Instant Articles format, through which it won’t take any cut of the revenue from subscription signups (the subscription transaction and payment processing will take place entirely on the publishers’ site). Facebook’s subscription tests are Android-only, as it’s been wrestling with Apple over the past few months over Apple’s default 30 percent cut of “in-app sales,” Recode reported.

The end of Google’s first-click free policy shows promise for publishers

While publishers remain unhappy with the returns they get from platforms like Google and Facebook for hosting their content, the tide appears to be turning.

Publishers believe Google’s removal of its first-click free model this month is the first example of the platform evolving in a way that doesn’t immediately serve its own interests. Facebook also has started tests for driving subscriptions through Instant Articles with publishers.

“We’ve never seen the platforms talk about the beginnings of ideas of what they want to do to support paid journalism,” said Chris Duncan, managing director at Times Newspapers. “Any recognition that the journalism we create is valuable to platforms is welcome. Any model where publishers keep the revenue they earn is a good thing. Any model that gives publishers control over how they interact with audiences is good. you see bits of that in the discussions we have with all the platforms.”

Since The Times of London launched its paywall in 2010, it resisted participating in Google’s first-click free policy for paywalled sites, meaning the Times effectively disappeared from Google search when it debuted the paywall. As of Oct. 21, all articles from the Times will be as discoverable on Google’s search engine as content from a publisher with no paywall.

News UK, parent of the Times, has long noted publicly the power the duopoly wields over publishers. At the publisher’s digital journalism summit with Press Gazette on Oct. 20 in London, David Dinsmore, News UK’s chief operating officer, reminded attendees that the majority of digital ad spend was going to the duopoly, while 47 percent of all engagements with U.K. websites on social media over the past year sourced content from U.K. news brands, according to a News Media Association analysis of NewsWhip data.

“Newsgathering is spending all the money digging up the news; social media platforms are extracting nearly all the revenue from it,” he said. “The terrifying prospect of not sorting out this broken relationship is a world where edited, verified news ceases to exist unless funded by that state. The verified news fuel for platforms will disappear and put at risk the rivers of gold flowing there way.”

The Telegraph, one of the partners for Facebook’s subscriptions program through Instant Articles, is optimistic about the reach platforms afford, but this relies on the right relationships. “We have a relationship with Facebook at the product level in Menlo Park [Facebook’s California headquarters]; with respect to the team in the U.K., that’s a very different relationship,” said Robert Bridge, chief customer officer at Telegraph Media Group. “Once you are talking at a product level then you can start to make a difference.”

Yet for some publishers, the platforms’ efforts smack of lip service. “It’s all window dressing until the economic problem is dealt with,” said Henry Faure Walker, Newsquest CEO. “For years, [platforms] have been riding on the professional journalistic content publishers produce, while gleaning great data insights on top, while we get the crumbs off the table.”

Platforms still need to make significant progress in taking responsibility for the spread of harmful content and the possibility of brands appearing next to either unsafe or inappropriate content.

“Google Display Network fails to discern or distinguish between quality ad environment and poorly produced amateur content,” said Faure Walker. “The government should regulate against that.”

The post The end of Google’s first-click free policy shows promise for publishers appeared first on Digiday.

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