Google is testing a new format that is supposed to make reading online stories as easy as flipping through a magazine, opening new contextual ad opportunities for publishers in the process. The Fast-Flip tool emulates the look and feel of reading a print magazine, letting the reader click on large arrows on the side to turn the page, instead of a standard web link that requires waiting several seconds for a page to load. Readers can sort through content based on topics, favourite writers and publications.
For now, Fast Flip will only show the first page of a story. Readers who want to continue will have to click through to the publisher’s site, where the display reverts to a traditional web page.
More than three dozen publishers, broadcasters and web-only outlets have agreed to share their content on Fast Flip, including The New York Times and the Washington Post, as well as large magazines like Newsweek and BusinessWeek.
The publishers providing the stories to Fast Flip will get most of the revenue from the contextual display ads that Google intends to show in the new format.
The move marks a major change from Google’s main search page and its news section, where the company keeps all the money from ads shown alongside headlines and snippets from stories.