Google launches revenue-sharing news reading service

Amid all the concern from news organizations about Google News, the online giant has launched Fast Flip, a news reading service from which Google will share ad revenues with publishers.

Fast Flip, according to a story in The New York Times, “allows users to view news articles from dozens of major publishers and
flip through them as quickly as they would the pages of a magazine.”

Google places ads around the articles and shares the revenue with the publishers who have signed on. The percentage that will go to publishers was not disclosed, but Google said publishers will “receive the majority.”

The organizations that have signed on include: BBC News, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, Cosmopolitan, The Atlantic, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, Salon and Slate.

Krishna Bharat, a distinguished researcher at Google who developed Google News in 2002 explained part of the reasoning behind Fast Flip to the Times:

“Browsing news on the Web is much slower than it is in print. When it is fast, people will look at more news and more ads, and that’s something that publishers want to see.”

Dave Coursey at PCWorld isn’t impressed so far. He wrote on his Tech Inciter blog:

“Google’s new Fast Flip news-er interface is a bit of a puzzle. It doesn’t seem very fast and also doesn’t flip pages, but slides them across the screen.

“I want to like anything Google does that makes life easier for readers, but Fast Flip can make news harder to access, not easier. Your experience may vary.”

But he does add:

“The bottom line is that some people will find it a more natural way to read their daily newspaper online, especially if they like one or more publications and want to read a number of stories from each…If you don’t know what you are looking for, Fast Flip will present a number of publications at once and let you flip, er, slide through them. The idea is supposed to mimic how you might use a real newspaper or magazine. But, since my computer has a screen and isn’t made of paper, the mimicry leaves a lot to be desired in terms of user experience. And the page rendering is hard on the eyes.”

But Mercedes Bunz at The Guardian disagrees. She wrote on the PDA Digital Content blog:

“Google focusing on quality journalism isn’t enough to save the world’s broadsheets. But it is good for Google’s image.

“Why, then, does this project feel so exciting? Fast Flip offers a very visually orientated reading experience. One we know from print. One we love print for. To be able to understand information visually by the pictures or even just the size of a story is an important difference from standard web browsing. When you finish flipping through a whole newspaper, you have the good feeling, as if you have accomplished something. You feel informed. Did you ever have that feeling at the end of a session clicking through a news portal? Exactly.”

The only way to decide if it works for you is to try it for yourself.