Google and the media industry have never had an easy relationship in Europe. Despite the fact that Google is one of the biggest traffic drivers for publisher, they were more likely to sue each other, than to talk to each other.
Bearing this in mind, Google launched the Google News Lab in June 2015 . Two months later we founded Spectrm and our collaboration with the News Lab might be an indicator of how much Google and their relationship with publishers changed.
Here are three examples:
The core of the conflict between European publishers and Google is about how technology is changing journalism and its distribution.
Hacks/Hackers is addressing this very problem. A grass root movement where journalists are meeting developers to trade ideas. Started in 2009, Hacks/Hackers has spread all over the world with local communities.
One of their first bigger events took place in summer 2015 in Berlin with the support of the Google News Lab.
It was the event where we, without much expertise in the media business, got confident by talking to many journalists and entrepreneurs that we had the ability to solve a big problem for publisher.
Almost a year later Phillip invited us to join an event at Hacks/Hackers New York.
It was our first time in New York and the event where we got connected to one of our major seed-investors. Maybe the most important step in a startup’s life.
Digital News Initiative
The same day we arrived in New York, the Digital News Initiative pronounced us as their first funded project. The Digital News Initiative is a partnership between European publisher and Google and — yes — it is about money. Honestly, money for projects which would otherwise probably never get (enough) money to be successful.
Despite the current hype surrounding AI-startups it is actually an invidious affair.
It’s costly, it’s time consuming, full of experiments that often lead nowhere and work with way too little data. Being part of the Digital News Initiative by Google allowed Spectrm nonetheless to dig very deep into the field of artificial intelligence.The result is a unique technology in the field of natural language processing, chatbots and content recommendation. We are pleased to launch this technology in the next few weeks.
Google News Summit
The Google News Summit took place in early December last year. Following the election and the subsequent discussion on fake news it was probably one of the most important media events of the year.
It took Facebook quite a while to acknowledge their huge impact on the news ecosystem and our society. Google instead learned the lesson and invited journalists, professors and startups to Mountain View to discuss all aspects of the current issues.
It’s not a coincidence that Google is acting fast and concerned with solving the problem rather than being part of the fake news discussion as Facebook is.
Sure, Googles efforts around journalism and media are not entirely altruistic. Google needs the open web and users will only search for content if the content is worth searching for. Without quality journalism a better search or distribution is worthless and vice versa.
That is the challenge for the whole ecosystem and partly Google itself.
Coming from the startup world, being collaborative and passionate about MVPs and experimentation is normal, but it’s very interesting to see the Google News Lab is using the same principals. Supporting early stage experimentation with the DNI and connecting the right people at Hacks/Hackers or the News Summit is a strategy that seems to be successful in building a new relationship with publishers.
The pleasant side effect of helping startups like us makes that even better.