Google is experimenting on the local news front. The idea, according to Quartz, is to add a local news card to its Google Now service, meaning early adopters of Google Glass can be among the first to benefit from it.
Anyone with an Android device (Google Now also works on iPhones via its Search app) will get information that Google thinks will be relevant via Push notifications–meaning you don’t have to go to another site to find it, it finds you. But that, of course, depends on the brilliance of Google’s algorithm. The service is currently being tested in-house, but Google’s vice president of search and assist, Joanna Wright, said this:
“One thing we’re testing right now is a very local hyper-local news card. Which is really useful–it teaches me things about my neighborhood. For example, I found out Miss Mexico came to my son’s school, I saw that [the local] Chipotle was giving out burritos, and someone was stabbed in the park near my house. It’s very, very targeted to you and your interests.”
Although the rainbow of hyperlocal news may have a pot worth an estimated $100 billion, finding the end of the rainbow is not as easy as you think. AOL attempted to do it with Patch, which launched in 2010. Incidentally, AOL’s CEO, Tim Armstrong, who used to work at Google, was Patch’s founder. Despite heavy investment, the hyperlocal news site has been “limping” towards profitability.
This is not the first time Google has jumped into the local news pool. It attempted to hook up citizen journalism with a local TV news channel back in 2010 with its uReport initiative, which attempted to bring footage from a person’s cellphone direct to San Francisco’s ABC7 News’ YouTube page. But this is arguably a more thought-out version and, using the ever-increasing magic trickery of smartphones plus geolocation, might be the thing that finally monetizes local news.
[Image: Flickr user Miguel Vera]