So 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?