Google Proposes Micropayment System To Rescue Newspapers

Despite their frosty relationship, Google is proposing a micropayment system that could give the newspaper industry a way to charge for its online content. According to the Nieman Journalism Lab, the micropayment system will be based on Google Checkout and be available within a year “to both Google and non-Google properties.”

The NJL has posted an 8-page PDF that Google wrote in reply to an RFP from the Newspaper Association of America. “Google is uniquely positioned to help publishers create a scalable e-commerce system via our Checkout product,” the document says, “and also enable users to find this content via search — even if it’s behind a paywall.”

Micropayments are just part of Google’s overall plan to help newspapers make money from online content. Google’s proposal — its “vision of a premium content ecosystem” — include five key features that combine the Google’s e-commerce, search, and advertising platforms:

  • Single sign-on capability for users to access content and manage subscriptions
  • Ability for publishers to combine subscriptions from different titles together for one price
  • Ability for publishers to create multiple payment options and easily include/exclude content behind a paywall
  • Multiple tiers of access to search including 1) snippets only with “subscription” label, 2) access to preview pages and 3) “first click free” access
  • Advertising systems that offer highly relevant ads for users, such as interest-based advertising

While Google’s proposal includes a micropayment system that’s already in development, the company says it does “not believe” micropayments will catch on widely for buying online content. Instead, Google says, “we envision the typical scenario to be where a user pays a monthly fee for access to a wide-ranging package of premium content.”

Google’s relationship with the newspaper industry has been under the microscope this year, but the war of words goes back at least a couple years. Here are links to some of the coverage here on Search Engine Land and on Danny Sullivan’s personal blog:

Related Topics: Channel: Content | Google: Critics | Google: News | Top News

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About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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