Google rolls out vast pro-publisher initiatives

It’s here. Yesterday Google launched Subscribe with Google – the simple way to subscribe to news publications and maintain access everywhere: websites, apps, even search results.

Announced at an (overlong) three-hour news conference in downtown New York, the service drills down to this: It lets you buy a subscription using your Google account on participating news sites. No more form filling, email addresses, rejected passwords, addresses and credit card fields. Select the publisher offer you’d like to buy, click “Subscribe,” and you’re done. Two clicks.

Users will automatically be signed in to the publisher’s site, and payment is taken via any cards previously used with Google. From that point onwards, users simply “Sign In with Google” to access publisher products, with Google managing the billing, payment methods and subscriptions all in one ‘secure’ place.

The tech giant is also road testing the ability to show subscription offers to users deemed to have a propensity to subscribe based on their search history.

Positioning itself as a friend to the publishing industry, alongside the contentious phrase, ‘we love journalism‘, Google also announced an array of other initiatives aimed at helping news publishers.

One of these is the further refinement of its algorithm to give priority to quality, or ‘authoritative’, news outlets in search results. This will also include YouTube. Who decides what is ‘authoritative’ and trustworthy as a news source wasn’t disclosed.

Google also said it would spend $300 million over three years to help the news industry, including the creation of a Disinfo Lab in partnership with the Harvard Kennedy School’s First Draft, which will attempt to identify false news during critical breaking news situations. Other initatives include ones to train journalists to identify misinformation online, provide more help to local news outlets and promote news literacy among consumers.

Further reading:

Google: Introducing Subscribe with Google

New York Times: Google pledges $300 million to clean up false news

Engadget: Google just made paying for the news dead simple

NiemanLab: Google announces a $300M ‘Google News Initiative’ (though this isn’t about giving out grants directly to newsrooms, like it does in Europe)