With Fast Flip, Google Helps Drive Traffic to Publishers
Google is moving to befriend the news industry by making it easier for consumers to read articles. Google launched a new innovation Monday called Fast Flip, a news hub that aims to overcome issues associated with turning electronic pages with a Web browser.
As Google sees it, reading news online is a bit painful because browsing can be slow. Even with a broadband connection, pages that host pictures and video can take as long as 10 seconds to load.
Google set out to solve the issue with technology that lets you flip through articles at the speed you'd read a magazine or newspaper. Google promises a smooth, fast flip -- and a share of the advertising revenues.
The Best of Both Worlds
Google describes Fast Flip as a "new reading experience that combines the best elements of print and online articles." Like a print magazine, Fast Flip lets readers browse sequentially through bundles of recent news, headlines and popular topics, as well as feeds from individual top publishers.
As the name suggests, flipping through content is fast, so readers can look through a lot of pages until they find something interesting. Google also provides aggregation and search over many top newspapers and magazines, and the ability to share content with friends and community.
"Fast Flip also personalizes the experience for you by taking cues from selections you make to show you more content from sources, topics and journalists that you seem to like," said Krishna Bharat, a distinguished researcher at Google News. "In short, you get fast browsing, natural magazine-style navigation, recommendations from friends and other members of the community, and a selection of content that is serendipitous and personalized."
The Advertising Play
Google partnered with three dozen publishers to build Fast Flip, including The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Salon, Fast Company, ProPublica and Newsweek. Google is sharing the ad revenue earned from contextually relevant ads posted in the hub.
"This gives publishers an opportunity to introduce new readers to their content," Bharat said. "It also tests our theory that being able to read articles faster means people will read more of them, driving more ad revenue to publishers."
Google isn't claiming Fast Flip is a silver bullet for publishing-industry challenges. But Google is betting that encouraging readers to read more news is a necessary part of the solution. Beyond the Web-based version, Google also built a mobile version that works with Android-powered devices and the iPhone.
Refining Fast Flip
There is still plenty of contextual display inventory available to be filled by Google, according to Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence.
"If Google can generate adoption and page views, it will create lots of high-quality display revenue for Google and partners. But the product, which is in beta, needs to be refined before consumers will take to it en masse," Sterling said. "It may also become a platform to test Google's content micropayments system built on Checkout."