WEST PALM BEACH, FL – Something remarkably interesting has been happening behind the scenes which very few have noticed, however, one firm who has not missed the quickly changing landscape, is information hoarder and narrative controller, Google. Over the last year or so, quietly brewing behind the scenes, has been Google’s loss of control of a growing percentage of the world’s news.
Yes, you read that right. It’s been a pretty-amazing transition. Here is how it works (or worked?).
As most people move online for their news consumption, they begin to utilize apps and mobile devices as well as social media to get their news. Not a big deal for ole GOOG when these programs just regurgitate news feeds included in major news search engines such as Google, who controls probably 90% of the world’s information consumption, much of which the world rely on them to find it in the first place, not to mention controlling who’s included in news search and who isn’t.
But what happens when someone else can act as the source, and publishers can work directly with those source syndication sites (or apps)? Well, Google becomes less and less important and less and less of a gate keeper.
Over the last year or so, some large news apps have begun to explode onto the scene. Apps that pull in news directly from publishers, effectively by-passing Google’s news search engine. When these apps have millions and millions of users, who get a collaborated mix of content far beyond what search services provide, and directly from publishers, Google’s control is lost. People begin to find lots and lots of information, from a variety of publishers. All without having to ‘Google’ anything.
I’m not referring to single news sites who have apps and/or RSS feeds of their own requiring people to install many different apps and then reading them all. I am talking about curator and aggregator apps which collaborate all of the news directly from thousands of different news sites and then deliver it to app users based on their interests, location, and reading habits, push notifications and all. Publishers who are included don’t even need to have their own app, or know anything about how to create user notifications.
These apps are becoming essential tools for users by bringing them very localized news from a variety of sources analyzing millions of articles to deliver the top trending news stories to their users.
I can tell you first hand that some of these apps provide a level of traffic that after reviewing your web logs you could only guess, if even for just a brief moment, that someone secretly transported you back to 2004 when search engines were your best friend.
Today, Google has announced some big changes to its policies regarding apps that get categorized as news. These changes will restore some level of control to whether someone can operate such an app, by removing them from the Google Play store, if need be, preventing people from ever accessing them on their Android device. Apple will probably soon follow.
The below are major developments which news publishers and collaborated App developers will be up in arms about as it now puts them on the hook for every syndication partner they provide content on behalf of with their app. Take my word for it, this is big news and you heard it here first.
Here is what is hidden between the lines. You’ll have to click on their links and read all about the current changes, which Google will implement in thirty days.
- We’ve launched a News policy to highlight requirements for News Apps published on Google Play. Visit the help center for more detailed information on this policy and future developer requirements.
- We’ve updated our User-generated Content (UGC) policy to require in-app reporting of AR anchoring on sensitive locations.
User Generated Content: Apps whose primary purpose is featuring objectionable UGC will be removed from Google Play. Similarly, apps that end up being used primarily for hosting objectionable UGC, or that develop a reputation among users of being a place where such content thrives, will also be removed from Google Play.
Apps that select the ‘News’ category but exhibit content that does not meet these requirements are not permitted in the News category of the Play Store.
News apps MUST: provide adequate information about the news publisher and its CONTRIBUTORS [emphasis added] including clear ownership, and have a website or in-app page that provides valid contact information for the news publisher.
Implement robust, effective and ongoing UGC moderation, as is reasonable and consistent with the type of UGC hosted by the app
What do they care so much for, the public good? They are not on the hook.
Google notes that these ‘aren’t new policies’ and they are ‘not changing our enforcement standards and practices’ as a result of these updates. But they will remove your app from Google Play all together if you do not play nice.
About The Author: John Colascione is Chief Executive Officer of Internet Marketing Services Inc. He specializes in Website Monetization, is a Google AdWords Certified Professional, authored a ‘how to’ book called ”Mastering Your Website‘, and is a key player in several Internet related businesses through his search engine strategy brand Searchen Networks®