Google Testing A New Tool To Boost Subscriptions For News Publications

New tools are being developed by Google with a view to boosting subscribers for news publications. This comes after Facebook made a similar move in order to offer an olive branch to the news industry which is concerned that the internet giants are taking most of the online advertising revenue. The tool developed by Google will see a ‘first click free’ feature introduced which will let readers access content from publications that require a subscription via search. Google will also explore online payments while targeting potential subscribers.

The new tools are initially being tested with the Financial Times of the United Kingdom and The New York Times. Google’s news vice president, Richard Gingras, revealed that the online search giant is in discussions with several other news publications and not just the two. This is based on the fact that online subscription models are increasingly being seen as the solution to current revenue decline that news publications are facing.

“It’s clear from news publishers that they can’t live on advertising alone. But it’s also clear that we’re seeing a shift in a market,” said Gingras.

Online ad revenues

In the current environment most of the ad spending is going to Google and Facebook even as print ad revenues fall. According to research firm eMarketer, in the $83 billion online advertising market, Google and Facebook will take over 60% of the revenues.

Last month Facebook revealed that it would be introducing subscription tools to Instant Articles, a program the social media giant uses to host news articles on its mobile application. Google’s version of Instant Articles is known as Accelerated Mobile Pages and it makes the loading of news websites quicker.

Subscription fee

The new tool aimed at publishers will allow news publications seek out potential subscribers and will give them a say over how much readers pay as a subscription fee. According to Gingras the mobile payment services of Google will be offered. Publishers will also get access to the ad targeting apparatus of Google. Gingras would, however, not say whether the online search giant would be sharing revenues with publishers.

Some publishers have, however, expressed concerns over the search policy of the Mountain View, California-based tech giant. For instance publishers who sign up will benefit from getting their articles ranked high, though in ordinary circumstances articles which can’t be freely accessed get lower rankings. Publishers also want flexibility regarding the number of articles that can be offered for free.