August 30, 2017 | Business | by Alexian Chiavegato

Google Wants to Help Publishers Find Potential Subscribers

Things are looking up for publishers who are eager to earn more revenue with content distributed through digital advertising giants Facebook and Google. The two companies essentially run the online advertising scene. Their presence specifically in the mobile sphere is large to say the least with Google and Facebook contributing to 90% of the digital advertising industry’s growth. Google has been focusing on bettering relationships with publishers through recent updates to its AMP platform in order to keep both media outlets and readers around. The distribution pipeline depends on publisher content to attract readers and boost advertising revenue. Without the content, the stream of readers will run dry, and it’s not difficult to conceive that the revenue for those digital advertising giants will significantly dry up as well. Considering that the growing size of the mobile advertising market was up to $80 billion in 2016, the potential loss would be significant. That being said, it makes sense for these companies to begin focusing on ways to increase revenues for publishers, and the current focus is on boosting subscriptions.

Bearing in mind the pivot towards digital, will publishers be able to thrive by continuing to focus on the same revenue streams? Facebook just confirmed last week that its Instant Articles content will begin including subscription paywalls for publishers. To top it off, 100 percent of the revenue from the subscriptions will go directly to the publisher. Google has followed suit with a recent announcement that it will be testing tools through its AMP platform to help increase subscriptions for publishers.

Traditionally, Google has positioned paid articles lower in search results in favor of free, easily accessible content. Readers could also search for articles and bypass subscription-based publishers with Google’s “first click free” feature. This has caused a lot of publishers who used subscription models to feel discriminated against because of Google’s perceived bias toward offering search results filled with free articles. Publishers were required to offer readers at least three free articles per day, but the new AMP tests are trying to figure out how to decrease that number. The tests will determine whether or not prompting readers with paywalls more frequently will increase the rate of subscriptions.

In addition to boosting paid articles, Google is also testing new ways to find and convert readers to become subscribers. The details of how this will be done have yet to be released; however, the goal is to target potential subscribers, determine the price those subscribers are willing to pay, and streamline the process to make signing up for subscriptions easier. Publishers will be able to use Google AMP tools to identify readers who are more likely to subscribe. With Google’s enormous collection of user data, it looks as though these tools will be able to significantly increase publishers’ ability to gain new subscribers.

Google is currently testing these tools with publications like the New York Times and the Financial Times, but the company is getting ready to work with numerous other outlets. Questions about whether or not Google will be splitting subscription profits with publishers remain unanswered. While the details of AMP’s new tools are still being worked out, the effort to boost subscriptions for publishers is clearly a smart move towards creating a mutually beneficial relationship.