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Google announces a $ 1 billion investment in the future of news

Illustration for the article titled Google to Journalists: Shut Up and Take the Money

Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

After spending most of the past decade choking every penny possible from the digital media industry, Google is finally getting the warmth it deserves. More and more people are be aware of the company’s monopoly on digital advertising is one of the culprits behind stunning number of redundancies in the editorial office. Regulators are realizing that this digital domain could be a serious one antitrust issue. Together, this means a huge headache for Google that can, in the eyes of the company, be solved with one thing: a decent payout.

The company’s latest attempt to regain some goodwill among publishers is a three-year, billion-dollar partnership that will go towards the company’s new product, Google News Showcase. Sundar Pichai CEO presented the Showcase in a corporate blog post today, promising that it would highlight the “editorial care of award-winning newsrooms”, while also helping those newsrooms to manifest “deeper relationships” with their readers.

Showcase debuts for the first time in a standalone version Google News app for Android, with an accompanying rollout for iOS users coming “soon”. As the name suggests, the app will literally start “showing” the main stories of the day as a file carousel under the app’s personalized daily summary. Alongside the headlines, these stories will show summaries of the story in question, related articles and more. And according to Pichai’s post, similar showcase features are expected Google Discover Feed and the search engine “in the future”.

Illustration for the article titled Google to Journalists: Shut Up and Take the Money

Graphic: Google (Getty Images)

I know it sounds quite similar to the media app that most of us use to read the news on our phone right now. But Pichai wants you to believe that Showcase, which is tested with around 200 “leading publications” in Canada, the EU and Latin America before a larger launch in the future, is not just news. His the future of news:

The newspaper business model, based on advertising and subscription revenue, has evolved for more than a century as audiences have turned to other news sources, including radio, television and, subsequently, the proliferation of cable television. and satellite radio.

The subtext here is that Google owns a piece of every part of those ecosystems that Pichai chatted about. As we started switching to podcasts for our other news, Google tweaked its ad serving systems to fit them hyper-targeted audio ads. As we started getting more news through our smart TVs, those systems started adopting television targeting skills, mashed potato. And when the authorities in countries across the Atlantic forced The hand of Google to give publishers a major cut in advertising money, the company has proven not to be above threatening to break its own news products for the region in retaliation.

With the announcement of Showcase, Google seems to have the impression that giving publishers brilliant new packaging for stories and calling it a “distinct approach” is enough to distract us and regulators from how its model appears to be. of business swallowing every news source before our eyes.

The cut that Google typically takes from a particular partner publisher is a well-kept secret, but last year the company opened that black box a little to reveal that publishers generally earn around 69 cents for every dollar an advertiser spends on their site. According to Google itself support page describing its platform aimed at publishers, the company takes an even bigger cut from the stories that might appear in Google’s search engine, with only 51% returning to the publisher in question.

And of course, for people who want to pay to support their local news sites, Google urges its partner publishers to offer readers the opportunity to do so sign up with your Google account, promising them that technology typically provides a serious increase to the subscription numbers. But when those readers sign up via this system, the company takes a cut of 30% of the money the reader pays for the first year and 15% for each subsequent year.

While we can’t calculate alone what Google could get from the media industry in general (albeit the people I tried), we know how much Google has recently gained from advertising: Investor documents 2019 from its parent company, Alphabet, to report that Google made about $ 98 billion in revenue that year from “search and more” advertising.

Think about it in comparison to what it offers publishers: $ 1 billion, split three years for a grand total of just over $ 333 million per year. It is not just a decline Google’s huge bucket of money, but it’s also unlikely to go where it’s needed most. While Pichai’s Showcase blog is committed to directing this sum to “high quality” publishers can show their “high quality” content, the two biggest advertising giants of our time, Google and Facebook, have shown that they don’t understand what the phrase actually means. In 2019, Facebook news tab Breitbart scrolledThe stories of among those considered to be of high quality and reliable. LGBTQ-focused sites that use Facebook or Google tools to keep the light on have found that their stories have been reported in error as pornographic or obscene and demonetized – or eventually closed-Consequently. Ditto for points of sale oriented towards Black or Latinx readers, since advertisers tend to allocate any story involving critical conversations about race or immigration as being too “controversial” for their brands and their money. It’s these little paper cuts that over time amount to huge bleeding wounds (or indefinite leave) for the publications involved.

I could go on here, but instead, let’s take a look at Pichai’s final remarks on the Showcase announcement, when he calls digital media “the latest change” in how we consume our news:

The internet was the last change and it certainly won’t be the last. Together with other businesses, governments and civil society, we want to do our part by helping journalism in the 21st century not only survive, but thrive.

The kind of thing that Google has pulled here and abroad don’t point to a company that wants journalism to thrive, period. Indicates a company that wants to thrive on the shoulders of journalistsand he wants those reporters to take the meager winnings that it is offer in return. Personally, I think we are better than that.

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