14 September 2009

Google Micropay Platform Could Help Newspapers

Google is developing a micropayment platform that will be available to "non-Google properties" within the year, according to a document the company submitted to the Newspaper Association of America (NAA).

The system, an extension of Google Checkout, would be a new and unexpected option for the news industry as it considers how to charge for content online, reports the Nieman Journalism Lab, which offers the Google document for download.

The revelation comes in an eight-page response to the NAA’s request for paid-content proposals, extended earlier this year to several major technology companies and startups -- including Google, with which the industry has had a rather tenuous relationship in the past.

In the document, Google outlines its "vision of a premium content ecosystem" that includes subscriptions across multiple news sites; syndication on third-party sites; accessibility to search; and various payment options, including micropayments.

"The idea is to allow viable payments of a penny to several dollars by aggregating purchases across merchants and over time," Google says.

Google has sought to position Checkout as a competitor to eBay’s PayPal service, the leading system for online payments. Although the company says the process for merchants currently is "fairly rudimentary," it "could be improved to be more relevant for news and media companies."

The NAA asked Google, along with other technology companies, to submit ideas for how newspapers could use technology to generate more revenue from their digital content. Google has been experimenting with new ways to highlight news content and new ways to display it.

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