Google to launch paywall service named Newspass

The word is out in the blogosphere that Google is readying to launch a paid content service to be called "Newspass" by year end. The news was reported in an Italian daily La Repubblica last week.

According to the published story, Google has been contacting certain Italian publishers to explore their willingness to participate in a trial run of a system that would allow micro payments as well as longer-term subscriptions to paid content.

When the plan is implemented, the Google News search page will feature both paid-for and free content. The content behind a pay wall will be identified by an icon next to it. Interested users will be able to access paid-for content directly from the search engine results page. The integrated payment system will allow users to buy news content with one click and publishers to use a single infrastructure for web, mobile and tablet to monetize their content, the article reads.

A Google spokersperson said:

We’ve consistently said we’re talking with news publishers about ways we can work together, including whether we can help them with technology to power any subscription services they may be thinking of building. Our aim, as with all Google products, is to reach as broad a global audience as possible. We have nothing specific to announce at this time.

From Searchengine Watch

This new Google facility will mark the beginning of a new era and business model for the search engine giant, who so far had been aggregating data for free for its users. This will also mean that the online media industry, which has been struggling to find suitable business models – in part precisely because of Google’s power -, will somehow regain control of some longed-for revenue streams.
The Italian report went as far as saying that "most of the proceeds will go to content producers," with Google handling authentication, support and billing… [snipped]

The paywall format is one option that has recently been adopted by mainstream newspapers for their online version. For instance, the New York Times launched its version at the beginning of the year. NewsCorp CEO Ruppert Murdoch is also stepping up his content policy to gradually bring content through a paywall. Earlier this year, he has barred news aggregators and media research firms like Meltwater from crawling the content of its UK Times and Sun online newspapers.

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