Flip or Flop?

I think there is definitely potential in Google’s new product Fast Flip, which it is currently trying out in its lab.

What is Fast Flip:

  • Visual way to browse news stories aggregated from a Google search
  • Scrapbook-style screenshots of participating publisher’s pages
  • At the moment it has about 30 plus news sources (including the Washington Post, BBC, the New York Times and Salon)
  • Features categories, recommend, most viewed and headlines as options
  • Has a revenue-share system with the news organisations
  • Pushes users to the content sources if they click on the screen shots

The immediate benefits I see for news organisations:

  • Drives traffic to their own websites
  • Revenue share
  • Stats
  • Greater chance of serendipitous  discovery
  • Hands back more ownership and gives them a chance to reach new readers and most importantly keep them because of greater branding

Benefits for the reader:

  • Better access to the source document (less chance of reading an out-of date article, which can increase with aggregated content)
  • Visually more pleasing than a feed reader and on first look easy to navigate and digest
  • Personalisation options
  • Good for readers who prefer browsing
  • Has much greater appeal to traditional newspaper readers than a feed reader would have

It is in its infancy at the moment and for most people outside the US or UK it won’t be helpful for domestic news until they link up with more organisations.  It doesn’t appear that they have partnered with anyone in Ireland yet.

Is this an olive branch?

Maybe Google are beginning to address the issue of funding news.  After all, if the people who provide news content don’t find a way to fund it – Google will have little in the way of news to aggregate.

To take these thoughts further read Mark Cuban’s post on micro-payments and super-subscriptions, which is something I’ve been thinking about recently as a possible pay model for online news. Also, check out Nieman Journalism Lab’s post, which explores Google’s proposed micro-payment system and looks at a recent document the group submitted to the Newspaper Association of America. I guess if there was a pull quote from Google this is it:

“open” need not mean free’

Hoping to get some time to write more about that document itself, but in the meantime here’s the link.