Is Google’s new ‘one-stop paid content shop’ the answer to the publishers’ online revenue debacle? Suzanne Morrow, senior copywriter for agency Dog Digital, takes a closer look at Google’s latest venture….
Last week Google launched their new One Pass platform in Humboldt University in Berlin. The subscription billing application will be rolled out onto smart phones, tablets and computers in the UK, US, Canada, France, Italy, Germany and Spain, and will be rolled out globally in the near future.
For publishers it means more control of their content and how it’s consumed. Publishers will be able to charge users, or readers, for a single feature up to an entire website, via a simple, easy to use interface.
It’s the first time a blanket service with “purchase once, use anywhere” technology has become available. Publishers are already taking an interest.
Does Google’s One Pass signal the start of the Pay As You Go Internet?
How it works
The service lets readers who purchased content from a One Pass publisher, access information on tablets, smart phones and websites, after signing in with their Gmail email address and password.
Publishers can customise how and when they charge for content while experimenting with different payment models; subscriptions, metered access, freemium content, day coupons even, for their website or mobile app store.
Publishers will be able to charge as little as much as they like for a single article up to an annual subscription.
What does it all mean?
The era of unlimited, endless free content on the web is coming to an end; there isn’t enough advertising to support it. People can’t work for free. Journalism costs.
One Pass may not signal the end of the content free for all but it’s certainly not doing it any favours.
Publishers are already showing an interest in One Pass. According to the Guardian, Daily Mail publisher, Associated Newspapers is understood to be looking into ways of charging with Google One Pass. James Bromley, the Mail Online’s Managing Director, has said the company are “working with Google”.
Focus Online, Germany’s third most-read news site, is changing how they do things. Five or six features are going through Google checkout each day for the bargain price of 10p (or 8 cents). Armin Blohmann, Head of Communications for…, has said that they are trialling the service to see how things go before making a more permanent decision.
The deepening digital divide
The system only works if people are prepared to pay for very specific content. With popular news items there’s so much coverage, why would subscribers stick with one publisher. The Guardian has talked about us approaching the age of “utilitarian journalism” where charging for content would effectively mean more instructional and How To features online. The minimal cost for access would be a fair trade-off in that case.
We have yet to see whether One Pass will become THE go-to subscription service platform for online content consumption.
But one thing is certain. What WILL develop out of all of this is a digital divide; with the people who pay for access on one side and those you won’t, no matter how much it costs, on the other.
By Suzanne Morrow