After a European launch in July, Google is expanding its free GNI Digital Growth Program to help publishers around the world.
- First announced in July, the Digital Growth Program from the Google News Initiative aims to help small to medium-sized news publishers grow their businesses online.
- The program launched in Spain, the UK, Germany, Italy, Poland, and France, but is now rolling out globally. It is available in 10 languages across four regions.
- It draws on the lessons learned from other GNI projects. The program was built with industry experts including FT Strategies, FTI Consulting, and Mather Economics. News associations like INMA, Local Media Association, and WAN-IFRA also played a role.
The program will focus on five areas: Reader Revenue, Audience Development, Advertising Revenue, Data, and Product. It is available to publishers for free through playbooks, interactive exercises, workshops, and hands-on support through the GNI Labs.
A focus on: Digital transformation. Many publishers have struggled with the shift to digital, especially smaller ones with fewer resources. For instance, it can take a long time to attract digital talent, build data into workflows, and understand how to grow audiences online. Google wants to support publishers with this transition.
The rub: Many providers are offering strategic planning to smaller publishers. This could affect their businesses – including that of launch partners FT Strategies; the year-old consulting arm of the Financial Times.
The bigger picture
The Google News Initiative was created in 2018 to help publishers build a brighter future for journalism.
- Google committed $300 million over three years to the project, although parts of the initiative have since received more funding. The Digital News Innovation Fund, part of the GNI, has awarded more than €140m to 662 projects in 30 European countries.
- The team builds products to help news organizations, as well as collaborating through partnerships and programs.
Facebook and Google face mounting criticism of their dominance in advertising. Google is keen to show that it is supporting the growth of publishing wherever possible.
But with ongoing legal threats against the tech giant, will Google’s goodwill run out when the initial commitment is up in 2021?