Google Fast Flip Verdict – Good News For Users, Bad News For Newspapers

google-fast-flipSo long Google News and thanks for all the traffic.

Google Fast Flip may still be in the labs but the search giant’s latest efforts should give some in the newspaper industry nightmares.

First things first, it is a pretty nice concept (if far from new) and it offers a decent user experience. Search a news event – Kim Clijsters US Open win for example – and Google Fast Flip will return results in all their visual glory by rendering the look and feel of the host website.

You can browse from one page to the next by clicking backwards and forwards on the blue arrows. And if you want to visit the site in question simply click on the image.

Google is in no doubt why you’ll want to use it:

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.

There’s also a promise of a revenue share for publishers who sign up but here’s where it starts to unravel for a news industry increasingly fretful about generating revenue online.

Paul Bradshaw, writing on the Online Journalism Blog, is in no doubt that this is a bad move for publishers and the only motivation to sign up is “blind panic”. He notes:

Of course, by hosting screenshots Google are eating into one of the key metrics that publishers use to sell advertising: the time a user spends on your site. And given that many readers don’t read beyond the first few pars, there’s a good chance it will eat into the numbers clicking through to the actual page at all.

The Telegraph’s Shane Richmond nicely satirises the move in his Fake Eric Schmidt blog this morning. Adopting the potty-mouth of Google’s (fake) CEO, he writes:

And here’s the part you ——— will love: we’ll share the revenue with you. Of course the ads will be ours, not yours. Oh, and Fast Flip shows enough of the article that readers will decide not to click through and read your pages at all. But you’ll thank us for it because we’ve saved your business model. Happy now bitches?

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Lehman Collapse Showed Power Of Print


A couple of years ago the BBC revamped its news website so when a major story came along it could push aside all the detritus and devote the top of the page to a single story – larger headline font and bigger image.

It was an admission of sorts that template-driven websites were all very well but come a big event (think 7/7, 9/11, Blair’s resignation etc) there was a need to make a visual impact.

Implicit is the power of print. Despite the onward rush of digital, no where is a splash quite as effective than on the front page of a newspaper.

The Daily Telegraph’s coverage of the Lehman Brothers’ collapse last September is a vivid reminder of that. Appropriate then that one year on Google has unveiled  Fast Flip, digital’s latest attempt to ape that power.

News websites 1990s-style
What’s Wrong With This Telegraph Front Page?
The Express Fiddles While The Mail Earns

Google Ads. FAIL

Great spot by Martin Belam, aka currybetdotnet. If you’re inclined to visit the forum of the English Defence League (‘Peacefully Protesting Against Militant Islam’), you are likely to be greeted by this advert:


The introductory blurb to the forum is duly reassuring:

The EDL will not tolerate any racist or Islamaphobic behaviour on this forum. We are against Islamic Extremists and all that they stand for, but do not want innocent Muslims being victimised or abused.

So that’s okay then, and presumably that passing reference to “innocent Muslims” was enough for Google to serve an ad for, ‘The International Muslim Matimonial Site!’

I wonder whether any EDL members will be tempted to click through.

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What’s Wrong With This Telegraph Front Page?
One Of The Best Photo Captions Ever

Which Is The Second Largest Search Site After Google? (Clue: It’s Not Yahoo!)

And for those who are thinking quizically, “It can’t be Microsoft Bing, can it?” you’re right, it can’t be.

The truth is that the biggest search rival to Google is … Google. In the guise of YouTube, that is.

Of course YouTube isn’t a search engine – it doesn’t bring back results from the web at large. Nevertheless, the video sharing site logs more searches per month than Yahoo!

This may be obvious to some of you but it was only when reading the recently published Sticks & Stones: How Digital Business Reputations Are Created Over Time and Lost in a Click by Larry Weber (he of PR behemoth Weber Shandwick) that the point struck home.

In the book, Weber cites ComScore numbers. And this is what he found: 

  • Google logs 7.6bn searches per month
  • YouTube logs 2.6bn
  • Yahoo! logs 2.4bn 

(Incidentally, MySpace and Facebook log 600m and 200m respectively.)

As Weber notes:

Considering that YouTube went live … in February 2005, it’s achieved an incredible record of growth in a very short time.

But in a couple of respects the numbers are worrying. First, they suggest that nobody does video searching well. Instead people are going to the source.

Second, this volume of search logs is indicative of YouTube’s quasi-monopoly of web video.

Of course it has competitors and some other video sharing sites, notably Dailymotion, have significant market share while others, like Vimeo, are growing fast.

But YouTube remains the go-to site for video – and it has morphed into a video search engine/destination in one.

Putting The Guardian Into The MediaGuardian 100

So to the annual MediaGuardian 100. I guess the clue is in the name. The paper likes to slice and dice entrants in its power list – under 40s, top 10 fallers, top 10 women, you know the kind of thing.

How’s this for size?

1. Carolyn McCall, chief executive, Guardian Media Group
2. Alan Rushbridger, editor, the Guardian
3. Stephen Fry, presenter, writer, actor (and former Guardian Weekend magazine columnist)
4. David Mitchell, actor, writer, presenter (and current Observer columnist)
5. Armando Iannucci, writer, director, producer, performer (and former Observer columnist)
6. Emily Bell, director of digital content, Guardian News & Media

At least they had the good grace to put Will Lewis, editor-in-chief of the paper responsible for the biggest newspaper story of the year, at number 10, a full 25 places above Carolyn McCall.

Elsewhere, here’s one for the digerati – the Top 10 Purely Digital:

1. Sergei Brin and Larry Page, Google
2. Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive, Apple
3. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft
4. Evan Williams, Twitter
5. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook
6. Jason Kilar, Hulu
7. Daniel Ek, Spotify
8. Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post
9. Paul Staines, Guido Fawkes blog
10. Richard Moross,