Google: we do pay newspapers

Google has hit back at accusations that it’s “stealing” newspapers’ content, claiming it has sent substantial revenue to publishers via its AdSense programme.

Newspaper bosses – including Rupert Murdoch and The Guardian Media Group – have rounded on services such as Google News, claiming the search giant uses its content without any direct payment.

But speaking at the FIPP World Magazine Congress in London, Google’s UK director Matt Brittin claims publishers are doing very nicely out of the search company.

Brittin said that publishers have earned $5 billion from running AdSense adverts on their sites, according to a report (somewhat ironically) on The Guardian. However, that figure includes all AdSense customers – not only newspapers and magazines.

He also claimed the search engine was driving huge amounts of traffic to the publishers’ sites, adding that the number of searches on Google for “magazines” had risen 225% and that searches for “glossies and tabloids” had risen by 458%.

However, the Google executive did offer an olive branch to the disgruntled publishers, outlining ways in which they could make money online. “In a world where everyone is a publisher what is needed more than ever is editing skills and brands that help people understand the quality of the content and help them to find the content that is useful,” he said.

“The challenge is the model of monetisation online and figuring out how to make that economically viable in the same way as your print products are. Those models are lagging consumer behaviour and all of us are trying to keep up with the consumer.”

That may not be enough to appease publishers such as the Guardian Media Group, which is demanding a pound of flesh from Google.

When asked by PC Pro if Google should be paying newspapers for their content, the Guardian Group’s director of digital strategy and development, Simon Waldman replied: “Yes. Marissa Mayer at Google has said that Google News is worth $100m to them in referrals alone, and that is before they have started their recent attempts to monetise it. I think it is only fair that some of that value is shared with the content creators who allow the product to exist in the first case.”

To read more of the interview with Simon Waldman, see next month’s PC Pro, on sale 14 May.

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