Earlier this month, Google announced an agreement with publishers in France, which involves Google creating a €60 million fund called the DIgital Publishing Innovation Fund to “help support transformative digital publishing initiatives for French readers.” The agreement came after a lengthy battle with publishers who wish to be paid for the privilege of search engines to link (with snippets) to their content. It’s a similar mindset to that of publishers all over the world.
Reuters called the agreement “a deal on payment of media links”. That’s certainly what it feels like. Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt explained the deal:
First, Google has agreed to create a €60 million Digital Publishing Innovation Fund to help support transformative digital publishing initiatives for French readers. Second, Google will deepen our partnership with French publishers to help increase their online revenues using our advertising technology.
This exciting announcement builds on the commitments we made in 2011 to increase our investment in France—including our Cultural Institute in Paris to help preserve amazing cultural treasures such as the Dead Sea Scrolls. These agreements show that through business and technology partnerships we can help stimulate digital innovation for the benefit of consumers, our partners and the wider web.
From the sound of it, however, we shouldn’t expect this to set a precedent for how we’re going to see Google operate around the globe. For one, in Germany (where Google has been facing a simliar battle), publishers aren’t all that interested in a deal like the one in France, as it would be a Google-specific “solution” to their problem, and wouldn’t apply to other search engines.
For that matter, Google is not looking to enter similar agreements with publishers in other countries. TechCrunch reports that Google has no plans to create “digital innovation” funds for publishers outside of France. The publication shares this statement from a Google spokesperson:
“While we are always happy to talk to publishers about additional ideas for driving traffic, engagement, and monetization, we are not currently looking to create a fund outside France.”
Google did reach an agreement with publishers in Belgium in December, following six years of litigation, but it did not involve one of these funds. Rather, as part of that agreement, Google said it would advertise its services on publishers’ media, and publishers would optimize their use of AdWords. Google would also work with Belgian French-language publishers to “help increase publishers’ revenue,” collaborating on ways to make money with Paywalls and subscriptions, and with AdSense and the Ad Exchange. Google would also work with Belgian publishers to implement Google+ social tools and launch YouTube channels.
When Google announced that deal, it said it would like to come to similar terms with publishers around the world, so we may be seeing more of this type of “solution,” rather than Google just funding publishers. As we’re seeing, each country’s publishers has a unique view of the situation, and it doesn’t look like we’re going to see a worldwide standard.
In Brazil, publishers have gone so far as to simply pull out of Google News.