Google has announced a new initiative called Google News Showcase that will pay select publishers for content the showcase is populated with. Currently, Google has set aside $1 billion to pay publishers over the next three years to get the initiative off the ground. In a blog post, Google CEO Sundar Pichai described Showcase as follows:
This financial commitment—our biggest to date—will pay publishers to create and curate high-quality content for a different kind of online news experience. Google News Showcase is a new product that will benefit both publishers and readers: It features the editorial curation of award-winning newsrooms to give readers more insight on the stories that matter, and in the process, helps publishers develop deeper relationships with their audiences.
But the Showcase initiative isn’t an altruistic move on Google’s part. The search giant has come under increasing pressure from publishers and regulators in recent years about the way it profits from the work publishers do. In short, Google’s News service currently works by pulling story headlines and descriptions from the publishers’ websites, populating the News service with their content. Google has always maintained its News service is good for publishers, as it sends traffic to their sites. However, publishers say Google gets the far better end of the deal since their content drives clicks to the Google News platform and because Google keeps most of the profits from the ads served on its platform.
Given the profits Google generates, $1 billion over three years doesn’t seem like a whole lot of money. But for now, some publishers, at least, seem willing to take any handouts. Google says over 200 publishers have already signed up, including Germany’s Der Spiegel. As for the News Showcase itself, the new platform will first launch on Google News on Android devices, followed by iOS devices later this year.