Google developing micropayment system for online news

September 11, 2009

From the San Francisco Business Times (ht J Lit): Google working on painless payments for news

Google’s platform, which should be ready within a year, would simplify the way newspapers and other publishers charge for online content. Some readers have balked at the need to sign in, create an identity and password, and jump other hurdles to access online news at sites that charge money. Google’s idea — based on its existing “Checkout” system — would let people create just one sign in for many different sites and subscriptions.

It would also let publishers combine subscriptions to many different web sites or titles and charge one price for them.

The platform would also allow creation of different levels of search access, from “snippets” to preview pages to complete access.

Google would get a piece of the pie for facilitating the transaction.

Newspapers complain that Google commoditized news. But that’s unfair. Newspapers are free to keep their content behind a subscription wall if they want. The trouble is they don’t have the leverage, individually, to charge for content. Readers will just go elsewhere.

If Google can help publishers work together, they may just take a little bit of leverage back.

This would be good for readers too. News costs money to produce, believe it or not. At the other end of every link is a reporter working a beat, or an analyst putting together a report. It takes time to create good content and people have to be paid for their time.

It will be easier for readers chip in if the cost is low and the execution is greatly simplified. That is the promise of a unified micropayment platform.

Newspapers shouldn’t expect this to be a panacea, however, not if the cost per page view is in the pennies. The largest newspaper sites would be able to generate a few million dollars per month at best … not a lot, but better than nothing…

6 comments

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I much prefer to remain on this platform.

Posted by Casper | Report as abusive

it is a very interesting question to me. What would be a fair price for reading this one post? What would be a fair price for a 1 year subcription to this post?
On the other hand, newspaper subcription have only made up a fraction of the cost of producing a newspaper. And part of the reason for low subscriptions was the value of lots of subscribers to advertizers.
What am I, as a reader, worth to a blogger?
I ?donated? 50$ to Calculated Risk, because it is a daily must read for me – but really, it is a small part of the “site” because of the links to Roubini, Naked Capitalism, Ritzholtz, etcetera.
Undoubtedly, I would sample far fewer sites, and certainly not be a daily reader is I contributed 50$ to each site yearly.
What do you think a daily reader should pay to read you?

Posted by fresno dan | Report as abusive

If I don’t like what I read, can I get a refund?

Posted by worldlymrb | Report as abusive

They can do what ever they deem in necessary as long as the link is marked pay or free. I intend not to pay for anything and finding I have been duped into a portion of an article like WSJ or FT often does is wrong. Part of the internet is speed and consuming times finding dead ends is the same as broken links. Maybe if the Democrats did not control the media it could continue to run at a profit rather than a loss and cost.

Posted by T | Report as abusive

Media has created information pollution. By reporting news with and agenda in mind and also by suppressing news based on profitability conerns. I have found very useful information from friends, groups , forums , social networking sites.. News media information is so much polarized towards making some kind of sensation..

Posted by Madhkar | Report as abusive

I think it is important that publishers be all,owed or encouraged to set their own prices for various types of content. For instance perhaps editorials might be free, while local news costs a quarter and national news 50 cents. Perhaps specialized coverage could cost $20- for an article with special expertise.

Posted by George Vateor | Report as abusive

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