The Google News Initiative: Building a stronger future for news
People come to Google looking for information they can trust, and that information often comes from the reporting of journalists and news organizations around the world. And while the demand for quality journalism is as high as it’s ever been, the business of journalism is under pressure, as publications around the world face challenges from an industry-wide transition to digital.
That matters deeply to Google. After all, our mission to build a more informed world is inherently tied to the reporting of journalists and news organizations. Our shared mission also reflects shared business interests. Platforms like Search and YouTube depend on a healthy ecosystem of publishers producing great digital content. That’s why it’s so important to us that we help you drive sustainable revenue and businesses. Last year, we paid $12.6 billion to partners and we drove 10 billion clicks a month to publishers’ websites for free.
It’s also why over the years, we’ve worked closely with the news industry to address key challenges. We worked with the industry to launch the open-source Accelerated Mobile Pages Project to improve the mobile web, YouTube Player for Publishers to simplify video distribution and reduce costs, Flexible Sampling to help with discovery of news content on Google, Google News Lab to provide newsrooms with trainings and editorial partnerships, and the Digital News Initiative to drive innovation in the European news industry.
We invested a lot time and energy in these collaborations. But the hard truth is—all of this might not be enough. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish what’s true (and not true) online. Business models for journalism continue to change drastically. The rapid evolution of technology is challenging all institutions, including the news industry—to keep pace.
We need to do more. That’s why we’re launching the Google News Initiative (GNI), our effort to help journalism thrive in the digital age. The GNI signifies a major milestone in Google’s 15-year commitment to the news industry, and will bring together everything we do in collaboration with the industry—across products, partnerships, and programs—to help build a stronger future for news.
The GNI will build on these efforts and deepen our commitment to a news industry facing dramatic shifts in how journalism is created, consumed, and paid for. It’s focused on three objectives:
- Elevate and strengthen quality journalism
- Evolve business models to drive sustainable growth
- Empower news organizations through technological innovation
Elevate and strengthen quality journalism
Over the past few years, we’ve worked with publishers to elevate accurate, quality content and stem the flow of misinformation and disinformation.
On our own platforms, we’re focused on combating misinformation during breaking news situations. Bad actors often target breaking news on Google platforms, increasing the likelihood that people are exposed to inaccurate content. So we’ve trained our systems to recognize these events and adjust our signals toward more authoritative content. There are comparable challenges on YouTube, and we’re taking a similar approach, highlighting relevant content from verified news sources in a “Top News” shelf.
But we’re also working directly with news organizations to combat misinformation. We’re launching the Disinfo Lab alongside the First Draft to combat mis- and disinformation during elections and breaking news moments. Finally, to help consumers distinguish fact from fiction online, we’re teaming up with the Poynter Institute, Stanford University, and the Local Media Association to launch MediaWise, a U.S. project designed to improve digital information literacy for young consumers.
Evolve business models to drive sustainable growth
Over the last decade, we’ve worked closely with news organizations to grow their digital advertising revenue. In just the past few years, we’ve applied our advanced machine learning expertise to automatically surface key insights about revenue opportunities (generating recommendations worth over $300 million in additional revenue) and supported the creation of faster, better ad experiences for the mobile web through AMP and native ads.
But consumers are willing to pay for digital news content, creating an opportunity to expand beyond ad revenue. Today we’re delivering on a vision outlined last year to enable publishers to diversify their revenue streams. We’re excited to launch Subscribe with Google, a way for people to easily subscribe to various news outlets, helping publishers engage readers across Google and the web. Our goal with Subscribe with Google is to ease the subscription process to get more readers consuming publishers’ journalism, as quickly as possible.
In October, at our Partner Leadership Summit, we told publishers about how we’re experimenting with ways to grow their subscriptions using Google data, machine learning, and DoubleClick infrastructure. We’re now in the early stages of testing a “Propensity to Subscribe” signal based on machine learning models in DoubleClick to make it easier for publishers to recognize potential subscribers, and to present them the right offer at the right time.
Of course, not every publication has the resources to dedicate a team to collect, analyze and understand their user data. News Consumer Insights, our new dashboard built on top of Google Analytics, will help news organizations of all sizes understand and segment their audiences with a subscriptions strategy in mind. At the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, this project led to a 150 percent increase in pageviews to their Subscribe pages and a month-over-month tripling of new digital subscription purchases.
Empower news organizations through technological innovation
We work with news organizations around the world to develop and deploy technology that improves newsroom efficiency, creates enriching storytelling experiences, and protects journalists from cyber attacks around the world.
For example, we’re using our natural language processing API to help Hearst Newspapers sort, label and categorize more than 3,000 articles every day. We’ve also worked with the South China Morning Post to use Google Earth to create immersive VR experiences that show the evolution of Hong Kong throughout history. With AMP Stories, which is now in beta, publishers can combine the speed of AMP with the rich, immersive storytelling of the open web. This is just the beginning. We want to continue working closely with publishers to experiment on new ways they can reach audiences and produce impactful storytelling.
Finally, we’re also launching today Outline, an open-source tool from Jigsaw that lets news organizations provide journalists more secure access to the internet. Outline makes it easy for news organizations to set up their own VPN on a private server—no tech savvy required.
Over the next three years, we’re committing $300 million toward meeting these goals. We’re also deepening our commitment to building products that address the news industry’s most urgent needs. In the past, we’ve done this by working closely alongside the industry in product working groups, resulting in projects like AMP and the DNI. We’ll be expanding that model globally.
The commitments we’re making through the Google News Initiative demonstrate that news and quality journalism is a top priority for Google. We know that success can only be achieved by working together, and we look forward to collaborating with the news industry to build a stronger future for journalism.