Google News Showcase is an initiative teased by the company in June. On Thursday, Google announced it is rolling out in certain markets along with a $1 billion financial commitment to partnering publishers.
Google News Showcase has two basic aspects: significant content-licensing payments to news publishers and new “packaged” content panels that will appear within Google News to provide deeper context and different types of storytelling, including audio and video.
Google News Showcase will also eventually come to Search and Google’s Discover feed. The timing of those rollouts is currently uncertain.
Publisher-curated content. Publishers will have control over these new story panels, which effectively grow out of Google’s existing “full coverage” on Google News. However, publishers never had this kind of opportunity or control over the presentation of their content on Google News in the past.
News Showcase is launching first in Germany and Brazil on Android, with iOS coming soon. Google reportedly has publisher deals in other countries, including the U.K., Canada and Argentina. Those rollouts shouldn’t be very far behind.
Google News Showcase featuring curated “panels”
U.S. rollout TBD. The individual country rollouts depend on negotiations with publishers, rather than technology. Google is just starting those conversations in the U.S., so the timing of a launch in this country remains to be determined.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a blog post that the company has committed $1 billion over the next three to news partnerships. Google has provided financial and technological support to publishers before but this is a much larger direct financial commitment than in the past. Pichai added that the Google’s commitment would extend beyond the three years and that Google is ultimately “focused on contributing to the overall sustainability of our news partners around the world.”
Enlightened self-interest. While there’s no reason to question Google’s commitment to helping make news sustainable, call it a case of enlightened self-interest. News Showcase and the corresponding financial support help do the following for Google:
- Improve Google’s relationships with news publishers, which it has been working on for years. Some of Google’s strongest critics have been news publishers.
- Mitigate some of the regulatory, tax and antitrust issues around news and persuade regulators and politicians that Google is not the destroyer of news in their countries but a critical part of the solution
- Ensure that Google News has unique, high-quality news content and features as a differentiator in its competition with Apple and Facebook.
As part of the licensing agreements, Google will expose some subscription-only content that users otherwise wouldn’t have access to. The idea is that in this way publishers will be able to gain additional subscribers. In practice that remains to be seen but it’s great for news consumers.
Why we care. Google told us that there are no ranking implications with Google News Showcase; story panels will not be a ranking factor. If there’s an article on a particular topic from a publisher and that publisher also has a richer story panel, the latter would be shown rather than the individual story link — but in the same position the publisher would otherwise occupy. However, depending on the panel, there could be higher engagement and CTRs to the news site, which could have revenue implications for the publisher.
There are apparently no direct advertising implications either. All monetization will happen on the publisher’s site. But there’s a significant potential branding opportunity here for publishers, which could lead to more ad and subscription revenue indirectly.