Google Invests in European Digital News

Google have been investing heavily in news this year. In July Radar reported that Google News Lab had opened for business offering free online training for journalists. Then in September Google announced a new open source project that would help publishers to post work and decrease load times for mobile reading, and are now launching Accelerated Mobile Pages, an early stage version of their product. Nieman Lab has also reported a partnership with the New York Times which sees the launch of a joint Google Cardboard VR initiative.

The Guardian now say’s that Google’s promised European fund for digital news which will see £109 million invested, is open for business;

Google announced its intention to launch the innovation fund in April as part of its Digital News Initiative that aims to support and improve historically often fractious relations with European publishers. The internet giant promises that the €50m annually it will award to projects over three years will come with “no strings attached” and that “there is no requirement to use any Google products”.

Justin Ellis at Nieman Lab doesn’t beat around the bush as he explores Google’s motives;

Google’s newfound diplomacy and philanthropy comes after years of battling with European publishers about the company’s influence over advertising, search, and visibility in Google News.

However Google is putting in place a transparent approach to funding which will be overseen by a team which includes European news executives from outside of Google. Ludovic Blecher who heads Google’s Digital News Initiative told Ellis that funding will be directed towards specific projects rather than ‘the broad digital agenda or roadmap of publishers’.

The fund is designed to help publishers, ranging from newspapers or other legacy media to startups, build out projects they can’t complete on their own. That’s a fairly broad area media companies could fill with ideas, which is why Blecher says they want ideas that have a specific business plan, performance indicators, or other goals and benchmarks that can be measured. “It’s about the creation of new revenue streams and addressing the creation of original journalism,” he said.