Saturday, 18 May 2013

Google Wallet could help the media to monetise news

With the animus that has long characterised the relationship between Google and News Corp it's hardly surprising that the first story about Google Wallet - a new, "three-clicks" payment facility to attach to Gmail - in The Australian, is negative.
AN Australian internet security expert has described Google's new 'three clicks' process for sending money by Gmail as "dangerous". 
Google this week announced that soon, Gmail users can send money to other users simply by clicking on a new "$" symbol to be added to a list of options at the base of the mail creation window. 
The user enters the amount, clicks a second time to verify the money attachment, and then clicks a third time to send the email.
This new feature inside Gmail means that Google is starting to move into the space currently occupied by PayPal - another IT industry giant, and the notable early-adopter for online money transactions. The sky's the limit because take-up of Gmail is so broad already. Here's what I had to say about monetisation last year when I wrote a blogpost about the future of news; it includes mention of Google:
The monetisation problem still remains. Readers balking at keeping track of multiple passwords will be a major barrier for news media companies. What’s needed is a micro-payment engine that lots of media companies across the board could deploy on their websites. The workflow has to be as simple as Fairfax’s website login design: click on the short URL in Twitter, click to pay ten cents or twenty cents – this would be a small screen that pops up and that would be delivered by the transaction provider – and read the story. No logging in, no fuss, no barrier. Google could provide this service, as the search engine company already provides services linked to the Gmail account of each user. Whether news media companies want to give more cash to Google, however, is another issue.
Indeed it is an issue, and that accounts for The Australian's largely negative angle on the new technology. Many will remember Robert Thomson, one of Rupert Murdoch's trusted lieutenants - then editor of The Wall Street Journal and now chief executive of the newly constituted News Corporation - attacking Google in 2009, calling the tech giant a "parasite":
Thomson said Google benefited from aggregating content from The Wall Street Journal and other newspapers. 
"Google argues they drive traffic to sites, but the whole Google sensibility is inimical to traditional brand loyalty," he said. 
"Google encourages promiscuity -- and shamelessly so -- and therefore a significant proportion of their users don't necessarily associate that content with the creator. 
"Therefore revenue that should be associated with the creator is not garnered."
Info-tech types bristled when Thomson came out in this way against Google, but I tended to agree with the basic premise (the pungent language was not nice but probably useful as it helped to make the point strongly) and later I went on to write the 2012 blogpost that is linked to above. The issue of remuneration was important to me because - as a freelance journalist - the matter of fair recompense for media work performed was always a matter of intimate concern to me. Two months ago I also wrote a spoof about how social media companies could form an alliance with the news media companies to engineer a method for processing micropayments when users click on shortened links posted to their sites.

With Google Wallet on the scene, the time is ripe for thinking about how the search engine and media giant can help the news media to continue to thrive by promoting efficient and reasonable monetisation methods. A part of the problem is user attitudes, but we know from the figures here in Australia alone that given the opportunity people will subscribe to news websites. Numbers are up. They can go higher. It would be a good thing for Google to work in this way toward ensuring a healthy and viable news media; that's not evil.

No comments: