Google is not kidding around when it says it needs to create amends with subscription-based news outlets. The search giant’s head of news, Richard Gingras, told the financial Times that the plan is to share revenues with publishers who take advantage of its new subscription tools. just like its ad system, it’d use its machine learning ability and vast collection of user information to find potential new and renewing subscribers, and take a cut from sales when people take action. Unlike ads, though, Google would not take up to 30 % of the money — the terms are “significantly more generous,” Gingras said.
The exec also rejects arguments that Google is trying to wrest some control from publishers within the vein of Facebook’s news subscription service, which uses Instant Articles that run on its own website. “We don’t need to own the customer,” Gingras said.
It’s clear that Google is not ready to announce final details, and there is no guarantee that each major publisher will accept the terms. However, it’s evident that Google has come a long way from the days when it absolutely was feuding with publishers accusing it of profiting off their work with nothing in return. It previously downplayed articles locked behind subscription paywalls unless publishers agreed to offer free access to a minimum of 3 articles per day, making them give up potential revenue simply to remain relevant in search results. Now, it’s dropping that hard-and-fast rule in favor of profiting when someone decides that a story is value a subscription.
The situation might not be quite as easy as Google says. though it’s true that Google will not have the same level of control as Facebook, it will still have considerable sway. After all, Google may be the key to helping publications grow their subscriber ranks. If you are a publisher, do you really need to turn down a possible competitive advantage when it comes from the world’s dominant web search provider? Google may have a lot of sway just because it’s tremendous reach.