Google wants to be our friend

GOOGLE has reached out with a hand of friendship to newspaper publishers, claiming it can provide the technology to help publishers make money,

Chief executive Eric Schmidt offered technical assets, such as “internet-based ads” and mircopayment engines, saying Google was committed to helping newspapers earn more money from visitors to their sites in a revenue-sharing agreement.

In a CNN Money report, Mr Schmidt said Google could also assist with the development of higher-quality display advertising. This feature would include contextual assets that allowed readers to find relevant content faster.

He told the annual conference of the Newspaper Association of American that Google was a better friend to newspapers than Yahoo! – his own rival.

Yahoo! and another major player, Monster, have been highly active in the US newspaper market, forging alliances with newspapers to combine print and web classified ads in categories such as jobs, cars and real estate. Earlier this year, News Ltd, based in Sydney, formed a similar alliance with Monster.

Yahoo! began a Newspaper Consortium back in 2006. It recruited several hundred American titles to its program, in which newspapers would sell internet ads on to Yahoo! and share in the revenue.

Of course, this does not do much for the newspapers’ own web strategy. However, there has been a feeling of defeat by many American newspaper companies, whose markets have been swamped by the likes of Yahoo!, Google, Craigslist, Monster and many more. 

Publishers responded by deciding to work with these internet companies in the realm of classifieds, rather than against them.

According to reports in the New York Times overnight, newspaper editors were less than convinced by Mr Schmidt’s hand of friendship at their conference. 

NAA president John Sturm told the NYT that “there is a feeling by some that (newspaper) content is being appropriated without payment. There will continue to be that tension going forward”.

In recent weeks, News Corp has been vocal about Google, claiming that it is a parasite of the internet, sucking up other people’s content without permission and distributing through their search engine.

On the first day of the conference, Associated Press said it would be more diligent in ensuring its own copyright was not broken (see earlier story). Many thought this was a shot at Google.

Mr Schmidt said a mulit-million-dollar content agreement existed between the two companies, and he did not believe the remarks were aimed at Google.

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