Thursday, June 20, 2024

Google beefs up support for news publishers in Asia Pacific

In a virtual roundtable last Aug. 31, tech giant Google laid out the tools, services, and programs it provides to news publishers in the Asia Pacific so these institutions can adapt to the rapidly evolving digital landscape.

The company knows the past few years have been rough for publishers. According to the Reuters 2022 Digital News Report, younger audiences are increasingly accessing content from a variety of digital platforms and trust in the news continues to fall around the globe.

“The number one thing that we see is that there is so much competition for people’s time and attention, and so many formats that people find really engaging, and so many places to be consuming content,” pointed out Kate Beddoe, Google Asia Pacific director of news partnerships, during the event.

“So, if you’re trying to compete for that attention, it is very different [from] the environment where news used to previously have to a certain extent a captive audience,” Beddoe said.

Irene Jay Liu, Google News Lab head for Asia Pacific, added: “There is lack of trust in any institution, not just news organizations or traditional mainstream news organizations.”

Google, however, insists it has been supporting the news industry while it is challenged by changing consumer behavior. The company has made available and constantly refines the tools that direct traffic to Asia Pacific publisher’s websites and enables them to earn revenue through its platforms.

For instance, Google Search and Google News sends more than 24 billion clicks to publisher’s websites every month. Moreover, Beddoe maintained the tech company constantly improves these platforms to elevate original reporting and downgrade misinformation.

Additionally, through products such as Google Ad manager, Google Analytics, Google AdSense, YouTube, and Subscribe with Google, the company equips publishers with the opportunities to profit from its products.

Google has even started paying publishers through its growing program, the Google News Showcase. This relatively young project began in 2020 and Google uses it as a channel to patronize participating publishers.

The publishers curate news pieces from their sites so Google can offer no-charge access to paywalled pieces that are usually accessible only to publisher’s subscribers.

The company has invested $1 billion into news organizations globally through this program. As of 2022, there are over 340 partner publishers across APAC countries such as India, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand participating in it. There are no plans, however, for when this program will be launched in South East Asian (SEA) nations like the Philippines.

Partnerships are another way Google proudly claims to help the news industry. Google has been assisting publishers and journalists through collaborations and trainings initiated through the Google News Labs and the Google News Initiative (GNI). The GNI aims to cultivate skills like business sustainability and technological innovation in the news ecosystem.

“Since we launched the global journalist training program through News Lab in 2015, we’ve trained over 171,000 journalists in the Asia Pacific region. More broadly on the GNI, since its launch in 2018 to 2020, GNI has committed to $33 million in funding to support over 1,000 news partners across 32 countries in Asia PAcific,”  Liu revealed.

Besides its trainings for the general Asia Pacific region, the GNI has projects focused on Southeast Asia. One of them is the Data & Insights Launchpad that hones the region’s news organizations’ skills in data analytics.

The GNI’s efforts to counter misinformation by investing in fact-checking organizations and fact-checkers has also extended to Southeast Asia. For example, before the 2022 Philippine elections, it worked with local fact-checking projects #FactsFirstPH and Tsek.ph.

Ultimately, Google supports news publishers because it benefits the company in the long run. “It’s absolutely essential to our mission. Our job is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. News is a vital source of information. Our products are simply more impactful when there are quality answers to be had,” Beddoe said.

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