Google planning micro-payments for publishers


Google is developing technology to help publishers charge its readers for online content. The search giant is working on software that will allow newspapers to charge users for certain online content using a system of micro-payments. Google made the announcement as a response to the Newspaper Association of America which asked a number of technology companies for proposals on how to generate revenues from online content. Google submitted an eight-page document to the NAA in response to the association's request for content charging solutions.

The document reads: “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.”

Google suggests that its micro-payment system would be an extention of its Google Checkout ecommerce platform.

Readers would be charged per article, potentially for exclusive news stories, longer features and columns.

Key features in Google's vision of a "premium content ecosystem" include:

• Single sign-on capability for users to access content and manage subscriptions

• Ability for publishers to combine subscriptions from different titles together for one price

• Ability for publishers to create multiple payment options and easily include/exclude content behind a paywall

• Multiple tiers of access to search including 1) snippets only with "subscription" label, 2) access to preview pages and 3) "first click free" access

• Advertising systems that offer highly relevant ads for users, such as interest-based advertising

Micropayments are "in the early planning stages" but "will be a payment vehicle available to both Google and non-Google properties within the next year” and merchant integration will be "extremely simple" Google added.

The news follows the announcement from News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch that all of his major newspapers – including the Times and the Sun – would be charging for online content by the end of June 2010.

Last month, US firm Journalism Online has claimed that more than 500 newspapers and magazines have agreed to join its new content payment network. The platform, set to go live in the Autumn in the US, lets publishers sign up as ‘affiliates’ to the network, using a universal Journalism Online account.


Opinion: Google lifeboat to rescue newspapers? Think again.

So Google could have micropayments for newspaper content live within a year? That will grab the attention of newspaper owners everywhere. It will seem like this could save the newspaper and magazine industry; the most unexpected life-raft, from the most unusual lifeboat.

“Open need not mean free” is today’s message from the aggregator, after years of attack from news media sites over the ubiquity of content and who really owns the eyeball - and the ad revenue that goes with.

There has been an uneasy relationship between the aggregators and content creaters for over a decade. While content-rich websites need the traffic and distribution that aggregators offer, there is a commercial danger that the viewer’s attention is predominantly on the aggregator’s website and not on the content-rich site.

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