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Google 'Fast Flips' the way we look at news

Text by Tony TODD

Latest update : 2009-09-15

Internet search giant Google has started a new experiment in the way Web users view news sites. The aim is to drive revenue back to news media, and of course to Google too.

Google has launched a service that changes the way Internet users look at news, in the hope of reversing falling newspaper and news media revenues.

With Fast Flip, viewers "flip" through pages in the same way they would browse through hard copy magazines or newspapers.

It shows only the first page of a story and users who want to read more have to click through to the website of the host publication.

Fast Flip allows readers to browse stories by topic, by publication or by "most viewed," "most popular" or even "recommended".

The idea, according to the California-based Internet search and advertising giant, is to increase the number of adverts viewers see -- and, crucially, to farm back the "pay-per-click" revenue to the media organisations participating in the scheme.

In theory, viewers would see more ads, and each time they click on them the revenue generated by Google is shared with the news organisations.

At the moment, Google is working with 30 such partners including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Popular Mechanics, Cosmopolitan, Elle and Marie Claire, among others.

The BBC is the only European site participating in the Beta version.


A win-win solution?

Anne-Gabrielle Dauba, head of communications for Google France, says the company is looking to create a "win-win" environment for its media partners and Web users.

She said: "We could do nothing without our partners. We don't produce or edit any content ourselves. We want Fast Flip to become a win-win situation for us, our partners and also Internet users."

Google is often blamed for taking advertising revenue away from news sources it aggregates through its Google News service, which organises headlines, story intros and links from the most popular news websites.

It has also drawn fire from a number of newspaper owners for linking to their articles without payment.

Ms Dauba defended Google News, pointing at the experience of French daily Le Monde, which she claimed has benefitted from a 10% increase in traffic because of its partnership with Google.

But not everyone sees it that way.

In 2007 a Belgian court ordered Google to remove content from a number of Belgian newspapers from its site, saying it had not asked permission to republish headlines.

 
Lately, Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch has said he plans to start charging Internet users to read his papers online to combat falling revenue and the perception that everything online is and should be free.

Date created : 2009-09-15