Google has opened discussions with publishers about licensing their content for a new, Apple News-style news aggregation service. With publishers to be paid a license fee, the revelation represents a shift in Google’s relationship with publishers, who have long sought financial compensation from the search giant for the use of their content in its results page. The talks are in their infancy, but we do know that Google is meeting with publishers in Europe, specifically France, about the as-yet-unnamed new service.

The financial arrangements have yet to be revealed. A Google source revealed to The Wall Street Journal that ongoing discussions focus on licensing content to appear in a free product, but the specifics are being ironed out currently. Apple News launched in September 2015 and quickly became the industry standard news aggregator. A free service, publishers monetise their publications through advertising. Used by 100 million users worldwide, it’s very much the Goliath to Google’s David in the news aggregation arena. In 2019, Apple launched Apple News+, which provides subscribers with full access to digital editions of newspapers and magazines including Vogue, National Geographic Magazine and Los Angeles Times. Priced at $9.99 per month, it provides full access to digital versions of print publications.

apple news+ mobile with cereal magazineFacebook is the third tech giant reevaluating its approach to news. It wants to pay publishers a license fee for use of their news in an upcoming in-app news tab. At the time of the announcement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke of his hope that other tech companies will follow this business model.

Google’s news aggregation service may mark an attempt to rekindle favour with the European news media. In September of 2019, Google announced that it would not pay European news organisations for the right to include their content in its search results pages. This sparked a significant backlash from publishers who expected the opposite outcome after the passing of a directive through European Parliament. 

France was the first EU country to progress this directive into national legislation on October 24th 2019, but fell into one of its loopholes. This meant that Google refused to pay French publishers for links and removed snippets and thumbnail images for publishers displaying content in France unless they specified they wished to have this content shown in search results.

Apple News has long been the benchmark for news aggregation apps. Separate from the pre-existing Google News app, Google’s new news aggregation service can be considered a direct competitor for Apple News and Apple News+. Google is optimistic about its chances. Here’s what Richard Gingras, VP of news at Google, had to say:

“We want to help people find quality journalism – it’s important to informed democracy and helps support a sustainable news industry. We care deeply about this and are talking with partners and looking at more ways to expand our ongoing work with publishers, building on programs like our Google News Initiative.”

If you’d like to seamlessly integrate your publication with Apple News, click here.