Google has faced criticism from a range of publishers over its Google News aggregation product, but it looks like the search giant is at least trying to play nice with trials of a new ad supported — but revenue sharing — news aggregation product.
Fast Flip collates news content from a range of third party publishers in an interface it describes as “combining the best elements of print and online articles.” Essentially, this means a series of screen grabs of news stories from publisher sites, on which users can click to view original content if they wish.
Each story is accompanied by contextual display ads from Google’s network, and the resulting revenue is shared with publishers. Ads on publisher sites are omitted from the screen grabs themselves.
Writing on the Google News Blog today, Krishna Bharat, the creator of Google News, said “The publishing industry faces many challenges today, and there is no magic bullet. However, we believe that encouraging readers to read more news is a necessary part of the solution. We think Fast Flip could be one way to help, and we’re looking to find other ways to help as well in the near future.”
Publishers have openly criticized Google’s news product for monetizing their content through ads without passing on a share of that revenue. However, Google maintains that publishers can opt-out of having their sites indexed by the product — and waive the benefits of the traffic it may drive to their sites — if they so wish.
Last month, Italian competition authorities even launched an investigation into allegations Google was abusing its dominant position through its News products, and strangling publishers’ ad revenue as a result.
Publishers taking part in trials of the new Fast Flip product include the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Washington Post, Salon, Fast Company, Newsweek, and BBC Worldwide. A mobile version for Android-powered devices and the iPhone is also available.