Follow the user – digital news in a digital world

Carlo d’Asaro Biondo, President, EMEA Strategic Relationships at Google, gave a speech today at the Munich Media Days Conference, outlining the progress made by the Digital News Initiative made since April 2015, including the launch, today, of an €150m Innovation Fund for the European news sector. The full text of his speech is included here.

Thanks for that introduction and for having me to speak today.

It’s an honour to be here at the Munich Media Days. The theme of this conference is how the media can find success in this era of digital disruption. And the theme of this talk suggests the answer: “follow the user”.

A lot has already been said at this conference about how today’s users interact with news.

What do we know? They are moving very fast to mobile – two thirds of smartphone users are consuming news on mobile devices. They love video, they love speed. They follow the news through social channels and apps. They really dislike intrusive ads (more on that later!)

That’s a snapshot, but it illustrates the scale of the challenge that you face in imagining the future of news – and that we face too.

News is – and will remain – a hugely important part of the information eco-system. At Google we recognise that. And we want to play our part in building a successful and sustainable relationship between publishers, technology and the user. We want high quality journalism to thrive for the long term.

Today I want to update you on the progress we are making in that three-way relationship.

It was just nine months ago – not too far from here in Davos – that we met with a group of European publishers and agreed to form the Digital News Initiative, or DNI.

The goal was simple: to encourage a more sustainable news ecosystem — and promote innovation in digital journalism — by promoting ongoing collaboration and dialogue between the tech and news sectors.

And we agreed at the outset that this would be an open collaboration – everyone involved in Europe’s digital news industry – large or small, established or newcomer – would be welcome to participate.

I’m delighted to say that today we are working together with more than 120 European partners across the news and tech sectors, including many of the most important names in global journalism. Die Zeit, FAZ and Der Spiegel here in Germany, the Guardian, Financial Times, the BBC, The Economist, La Stampa, El Pais, Les Echos, Euronews and many, many others.

But I want to make one thing very clear. Getting involved in the Digital News Initiative is not about buying into Google’s worldview or selling your soul. There are no contracts or conditions. You can choose to get involved in any or all of the elements of the DNI. It’s open to everyone, and it is all about working together.

So, what are we working on together?

Product Development
The DNI has three pillars. The first concerns Product Development. When we asked news publishers what Google could do to help build a more sustainable future for digital journalism, three words dominated their answers. Engineering and Mountain View!

When I announced the Digital News Initiative back in April, the publishers were cautious – perhaps rightly so. They wanted to see commitment to the project from the highest levels at Google. Let me quote from an article that Tony Danker, Chief Strategy Officer at the Guardian, wrote at the time:

“Can today’s initiative be a genuine partnership between Google and journalism, and thereby a tide to lift all boats? This would require Google’s leadership to see both mission and method here and to realise the real benefits for users. It would see them deploy their best engineering brains to want to fix the problem. It would result in fresh thinking within the product and engineering organisation at Google…It would see this thinking and this partnership spread globally. In short, it would mean more work in Mountain View than Brussels.”

Quite a challenge. But I firmly believe we are delivering upon it.

Over the past 6 months we have engaged in detailed discussions between publishers and Google’s best engineering and product minds to rethink the way users consume and interact with news and technology in this mobile age. The commitment goes right to the very top of Google – our new chief executive Sundar Pichai is closely involved in the project.

Two weeks ago we saw the first fruits of this collaboration when we announced a new initiative called Accelerated Mobile Pages, which aims to dramatically improve the performance of the mobile web.

The essence of this project is speed and openness. Today, users are increasingly consuming their news on the mobile web. But every time a mobile web page takes too long to load, potential readers will abandon it and publishers lose the opportunity to earn revenue through advertising or subscriptions.

The AMP project aims to make loading lightning fast. Under its open source framework, publishers will be able to build light-weight web pages which will still include rich content like video, graphics and ads, but will load instantly. The same code will work across multiple platforms and devices so that content can appear everywhere in an instant, no matter what type of phone or tablet you’re using.

And publishers will remain in control of their content and advertising. Publishers will continue to host their own web pages and will be able keep their choice of ad networks. It’s also a key aim of the project to support subscriptions and paywalls.

Although the conversations that led to this project started in Europe, we are pleased to have started this open-source initiative with more than 30 partners globally – including publishers like the New York Times and NewsCorp, technology platforms like Twitter and Pinterest, analytics partners like Adobe and Chartbeat, and pure digital players like Vox and Buzzfeed.

We’re just at the beginning of an exciting journey, but we expect AMPs to be live in Google Search in early 2016, and you can try out a demo right now on your phone or tablet.

Just type g.co/ampdemo into your mobile browser

You’ll see a Google Search page and then type in a popular news query like Syria or the name of one of the publications involved in the trial, for example the FAZ. You’ll see it’s very fast, that means more traffic and more opportunities for monetisation. Most importantly, it offers a great experience for the user.

The AMP project is about ensuring that the World Wide Web remains fast, vibrant and compelling. And in doing so, to ensure that publishers – large and small – can have their content presented Instantly Everywhere, without having to pursue a deal with proprietary platforms.

We’ve been thrilled at the reaction we’ve had so far – we’ve had expressions of interest from hundreds of publishers and platforms around the world – and we invite others to get involved.

But don’t get too engrossed in the demo – I’ve got plenty more to tell you about!

The AMP project is just one element of a much broader conversation with publishers across a range of areas – mobile, video, monetisation and data. Some developments will be small and incremental, others we hope can be transformative. The point is that these decisions are no longer being made in a vacuum, but as a result of consultation and collaboration with news publishers.

We’re excited about the opportunities and we’ll have more to announce very soon.

Training and research
The second pillar of the DNI relates to training and research. A phrase we use very often at Google is: focus on the user and all else will follow. And of course news editors put great emphasis on a similar phrase – know your reader.

But today, simply understanding – either through gut instinct or metrics – what your readers or viewers are interested in is only half the battle. The evolution of the technology means that the way users consume, interact with and share news content has become central to the process. Journalism – and the technology that delivers the journalism to users – are two sides of the same coin.

In our conversations with publishers we’ve heard there is a great appetite in newsrooms to learn how to make the most of digital tools for journalism. And through our newly established News Lab team we have already run training sessions for more than two thousand journalists across Europe, with newsroom visits, conferences, workshops and more.

In the course of those sessions we got great feedback from newsrooms on how we can make our tools for journalists more useful. One example is Google Search Trends, which allows journalists to see what readers in their country or region are searching for. The feedback we had from newsrooms was: “that’s great, but for the purpose of journalism it really needs to be up to the minute.”

So, after consultation with dozens of journalists, in June we launched real time Search Trends – and many newsrooms are now using those insights to shape and inform their journalism.

And because we’d like this kind of collaboration to go deeper, we have for the first time hired a dedicated team to work with newsrooms in Europe.

Allow me to introduce our newest News Lab recruit – Isa Sonnenfeld – who many of you will already know from her work with Twitter. Stand up Isa!

Isa will be based here in Germany in Berlin, partnering with journalism organisations such as the European Journalism Centre, the Global Editors Network and the International News Media Association to create training programmes and tools tailored to the needs of newsrooms.

Isa will be here throughout the day and would love to catch up with you in one of the breaks.

We also believe that research and measurement are vital to the future of the European news ecosystem. In order to follow the user it is very important to know what the user is doing, how his and her habits are changing. So we have been supporting the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism in its effort to produce the Digital News Report, which has quickly become the most authoritative guide to the fast changing patterns of news consumption.

Before the Reuters Institute launched the first Digital News report in 2012, much of this essential data simply didn’t exist. I’m delighted that as a result of our support the Reuters Institute has today added a further six countries to their survey – Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Turkey, Poland and Portugal – bringing the number of countries covered to twenty.

Innovation Fund launching today
The third pillar of the Digital News Initiative is the Innovation Fund. Earlier this year we announced that Google will make 150 million euros available over the next three years to support innovation in digital journalism in Europe. I’m pleased to announce that the fund OPENS TODAY for applications.

News organisations innovate every day – they start with a blank canvas and they fill it with compelling content. News is by definition innovation.

But because the machinery of getting your product out every day is complicated, it’s very hard to find the time and resources to experiment with new approaches to journalism and production.

The DNI Innovation Fund aims to tackle that problem by providing non-refundable support for projects that demonstrate new thinking in the practice of digital journalism, that promote the development of new business models or maybe even change the way users consume digital news.

The Fund is open to established publishers, online-only players, news start-ups, collaborative partnerships and individuals based in Europe. We’re looking for applications for both large and small projects. There is a Prototype track, which is open to everyone, including individuals established in the EU or EFTA, which will offer funding of up to €50.000 per project. And companies and organizations can also submit larger projects, requiring up to €1 million of funding. Projects can focus on your organisation specifically, or be collaborative with other industry players.

If you want to apply to the Innovation Fund, you can find all the details on our website digitalnewsinitiave.com. We will make the first funds available early in the new year.

The process will be inclusive and transparent, overseen by a Council including leading players in European journalism. And let me add that there is no tie-in with any of Google’s products.

Why are we launching an Innovation Fund? It comes back to the feedback we’ve had in our many conversations with publishers. The DNI is all about collaboration and engagement – and as I have described, we think there is much that Google can do to help build a more sustainable future for journalism. But no–one has all the answers, and maybe there are solutions out there that no-one has thought of yet. The fund aims to stimulate that new thinking.

Adblockers
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t say a word about the issue that every publisher is currently talking about – Ad blockers.

Ads are important – they have funded the news media for centuries and they fund the majority of the web today. The EU online advertising market grew to 30 billion euros in 2014. That is money that funds journalism, provides jobs and keeps internet services diverse and accessible.

But ad blockers are growing because consumers are having a bad experience with ads – people hate bad ads: ads that are intrusive, video ads that interrupt, ads that won’t get out of the way and block the content you are trying to enjoy.

We agree – consumers deserve a better ad experience. We – like many other good actors – work to remove the worst offenders. And we work on better alternatives – seamless and useful search ads and skippable ads on YouTube.

The problem is that Ad blockers that block all ads are throwing the baby out with the bathwater, threatening the livelihood of good content creators who are trying to do the right thing.

We need to find a solution — and fast. We need to work together to create a standard for better ads online. A standard that addresses the bad ad experience that consumers are exposed to. A standard that in time will persuade consumers that they no longer need to use ad blockers.

We are committed to finding a solution that aligns the interests of advertisers, content creators and consumers, and allows readers to continue enjoying great content.

Partnership is better than dispute
The experience of the past year makes me optimistic we can do it. If you had told me twelve months ago that Google would be working together with more than 100 publishers in Europe to build a better web and a more sustainable future for the news industry I think I would have said you were dreaming.

We still have a long way to go, but I am convinced we have proven to each other – and to everyone else – that working together is much more effective than the alternatives.

Partnership is better than dispute. In a fast changing world, technology solutions are better than regulation. Making friends is so much better than making enemies.

Let’s keep going!

Thank you.

Posted by Al Verney, Head of Corporate Communications Continua a leggere

Digital News Initiative: €150m Innovation Fund now open

In April, we launched the Digital News Initiative, a partnership with eleven European news organisations to support high quality journalism through technology and innovation. The initiative is open to anyone involved in Europe’s digital news industry, large or small, established or newcomer, and since launch, more than 120 organisations have signed up to participate. Today, we’re excited to open up the DNI Innovation Fund for applications, and we hope that many more people will get involved.

The ambition and intent of the Fund is bold: to spark new thinking, which could come from anywhere in the news ecosystem, to give news organisations – of all sizes – the space to try some new things. We’ve set aside up to €150 million for that purpose, which we’ll make available in the form of no-strings-attached awards over the next three years.

There will be at least two application rounds per year. The first one starts today, and finishes on December 4th. The next one will begin in Spring 2016 and details will be announced via the Digital News Initiative website.

Here’s a quick rundown of how the Fund works.

Projects
We’re looking for projects that demonstrate new thinking in the practice of digital journalism; that support the development of new business models, or maybe even change the way users consume digital news. Projects can be highly experimental, but must have well-defined goals and have a significant digital component. There is no requirement to use any Google products. Successful projects will show innovation and have a positive impact on the production of original digital journalism and on the future sustainability of the news business.

Eligibility
The Fund is open to established publishers, online-only players, news start-ups, collaborative partnerships and individuals based in the EU and EFTA countries.

Funding
There are three categories of funding available:

  • Prototype projects: open to organisations – and to individuals – that meet the eligibility criteria, and require up to €50k of funding. These projects should be very early stage, with ideas yet to be designed and assumptions yet to be tested. We will fast-track such projects and will fund 100% of the total cost.
  • Medium projects: open to organisations that meet the eligibility criteria and require up to €300k of funding. We will accept funding requests up to 70% of the total cost of the project.
  • Large projects: open to organisations that meet the eligibility criteria and require more than €300k of funding. We will accept funding requests up to 70% of the total cost of the project. Funding is capped at €1 million.

Exceptions to the €1 million cap are possible for large projects that are collaborative (e.g., international, sector-wide, involving multiple organisations) or that significantly benefit the broad news ecosystem.

How to apply
Visit the Digital News Initiative website for full details, including eligibility criteria, terms and conditions, and application forms. Applications must be made in English and the submission deadline for the first round of funding is 4th December 2015.

Governance
We’ve consulted widely to ensure that the Fund has inclusive and transparent application and selection processes. Confidentiality is critical; applicants should not share business-sensitive or highly confidential information. Full details can be found on the DNI website.

Initial selection of projects will be done by a Project team, composed of a mix of experienced industry figures and Google staff, who will review all applications for eligibility, innovation and impact. They’ll make recommendations on funding for Prototype and Medium projects to the Fund’s Council, which will have oversight of the Fund’s selection process. The Council will vote on Large projects.

Council members:

  • Joao Palmeiro, President of the Portuguese publishers association and Chair of the DNI Innovation Fund Council
  • Alexander Asseily, Founder & CEO of State, Founder of Jawbone
  • Arianna Ciccone, Co-Founder and Director of the Perugia International Journalism Festival
  • Bartosz Hojka, CEO of Agora S.A.
  • Katharina Borchert, CEO Spiegel Online
  • Veit Dengler, CEO, Neue Zürcher Zeitung
  • Rosalia Lloret, Head of Institutional Relations, Online Publishers’ Association Europe
  • Bruno Patino, Dean of Sciences-Po Journalism School
  • Murdoch MacLennan, CEO of the Telegraph Media Group
  • Madhav Chinnappa, Head of Strategic Relations, News and Publishers, Google
  • Torsten Schuppe, Director of Marketing EMEA, Google
  • Ronan Harris, Vice President, Google

We will make our first awards early in 2016. We look forward to receiving your applications!

Posted by Ludovic Blecher, DNI Innovation Fund Manager, Google Continua a leggere

Let’s work together to support quality journalism

Editor’s note: At the FT Media Conference in London, Carlo D’Asaro Biondo, Google’s President of Strategic Partnerships, Europe, outlined Google’s commitment to working with the news industry, and announced the Digital News Initiative, a partnership to support high-quality journalism in Europe through technology and innovation. The following is the full text of his speech.

Thank you Richard for that introduction and for inviting me to speak today.

Now, you might have seen in today’s papers that we’ve launched the Digital News Initiative together with leading European publishers.

If you did see that story it’s worth spending a moment thinking about how you read it. Maybe you bought a newspaper. Many of you will have read it on your tablet or mobile. Maybe it was in your Facebook feed, or you saw it on Twitter or via Google News. If you haven’t read the story yet, don’t worry – I’m about to tell you all about it using the most ancient form of media – the spoken word. Indeed, it’s interesting that today the spoken word – events such as this one – has itself become an important part of the business mix for modern news organisations.

The aim of today’s conference is to explore the radical changes the media industry is experiencing and to talk about new opportunities for growth.

No-one doubts that the changes are truly radical and challenging. But as we will see today, the opportunities in digital media are practically limitless.

The tools available to journalists today, to access information, to gather and create content and disseminate it to a global audience, represent extraordinary advances compared with what was available just a few years ago. And the quality and ambition of news journalism seems to grow year after year.

The way we consume news is changing dramatically too. More people are accessing more information than ever in history. The number of smartphone users will soon exceed 2 billion. According to Mary Meeker the typical smartphone user checks his or her device 150 times a day.

This represents an opportunity to reach an audience far beyond the morning paper or evening news show of the past. The Reuters Digital News Report found that in Europe in 2014, 37% of us consumed news on a mobile device each week.

Everyone recognises the opportunities the internet offers for the creation and dissemination of journalism. But the “new opportunities for growth” remain elusive. When I talk to publishers in Europe I hear deep concern about their ongoing ability to fund great journalism.

This is felt particularly on the continent. Perhaps the British and the Americans have it easier. In English it is possible to build huge global audiences – the New York Times, the Daily Mail and the Guardian have all proved this. But I’m from Italy, and it is much more difficult for Italian newspapers – and those from other countries with a smaller language base.

So, the challenge for European publishers is clear, but what is Google’s role?

First of all:

Google recognises and admires high quality journalism. As a strong advocate for the free flow of information we know the crucial role it plays in democratic societies.

We recognise that technology companies and news organisations are part of the same information ecosystem. We want to play our part in the common fight to find more sustainable models for news.

I firmly believe that Google has always wanted to be a friend and partner to the news industry, but I also accept we’ve made some mistakes along the way. We are a teenage “tech” company after all!

Over the years, Google’s relationship with news and the news industry has often been misunderstood and – dare I say it – sometimes misreported. So let me take a moment or two to set out how we work with the news industry.
Through Search and News, we send over 10 billion visits, for free, to publishers globally each month. We’re proud of that, and those readers represent real revenue opportunities for the publishers.

And through our advertising platforms, such as AdSense, we shared 10 billion dollars with publishers around the world in 2014.

Today we have more than 65,000 publishers in Google News, and Iet me be clear that those publishers are in control. They apply to be part of Google News. And if at any point they don’t want any of their content to appear in Google News or in our Search results, they can opt out by inserting a simple piece of code that instructs us not to index it.

We also work with an increasing number of publishers who want to sell their content directly to consumers, especially on tablets and mobile. Google Play – our app store for the Android operating system – allows news and magazine publishers to offer their content to readers on subscription – whether paid or for free. We are working closely with publishers to improve the visibility and monetisation of their news apps. And today news sources are making their content available on Google Play Newsstand across 19 countries.

We provide publishers with free technology tools to build and engage their audience – whether through YouTube, live broadcasting with Hangouts on Air, or data journalism.

We work with news organisations to make the most of this technology, using it to build an engaged audience. And an engaged audience is essential for successful and sustainable monetisation.

But we think we can do more and better, particularly in Europe. I’m happy to announce here today – alongside a number of European publishers and journalism organisations – the Digital News Initiative to promote high-quality journalism through technology and innovation.

What are we going to do together?

A few months back we held an “unconference” called Newsgeist in Phoenix Arizona, bringing together a wide range of publishers, editors and reporters alongside engineers and developers. The idea of an “unconference” is that the audience chooses the agenda, and the title of one of the sessions they chose was: “What should Google do?”.

Several major European publishers were there, and their message was loud and clear: MORE COLLABORATION. So, we started a detailed conversation with a number of key European publishers, which has brought us to today.

Our joint efforts will be in three key areas.

First, product development. We will create a publishers’ working group from across Europe to explore product developments aimed at increasing revenue, traffic and audience engagement. Over the years we have worked on a range of news-related initiatives, but we tended to work in isolation, and the feedback has been that Google can be complicated to work with, and at times unpredictable!

We intend to change that – indeed it is my job to change that!

Second, we will significantly increase our investment in training and research. Through our newly established News Lab team we will bring dedicated training resources to European newsrooms for the first time. We are creating training programmes with a number of journalism organisations, including the European Journalism Centre, the Global Editors Network and the International News Media Association.

We will also invest in research into the fast changing media landscape. We are partnering with the Reuters Institute in Oxford to create the deepest and most comprehensive picture of how the consumption of news is evolving in Europe. For 2016 the Reuters Institute Digital News Report will be expanded to cover 20 European countries – an essential guide to the changing news landscape.

We will set up a grants programme for academic institutions who wish to carry out research into the growing field of computational journalism. And we will extend our successful Google Journalism Fellowships programme to Europe, aimed at students interested in using technology to tell stories in new and dynamic ways.

And thirdly, we have allocated 150 million euros to stimulating and supporting innovation in digital journalism within the news industry in Europe, over the next three years. In the feedback we hear from publishers and editors, it is clear that there is a great desire to experiment more freely, but risk-taking comes at a cost. The purpose of this is to make grants available to projects which demonstrate new thinking in digital journalism. No-one knows where the next great idea will come from – but we want to stimulate and nurture ideas that come from those who are closest to the action, from those who know best how journalism is changing. Anyone working on innovation in online news in Europe will be able to apply, including national and regional publishers, new players and pure players.

As someone who has been closely involved in the French digital news innovation fund over the past three years I can say with certainty that the initiative has led to some really inspiring and innovative projects.

  • Le Monde has built a complete new offering for mobile and tablet that significantly improved engagement with their app, increasing page views and time spent
  • Slate.fr built a new kind of newsreader, funded by native ads, that surfaces and curates trending content on social networks. It’s a powerful tool for reporters and great for consumers too.

These are just two of the more than 50 projects funded in France, demonstrating how much can be achieved when we talk and work together.

So I’m delighted to say that joining us in announcing the Digital News Initiative are some of the biggest names in European news publishing.

And we all agreed this is not intended to be an exclusive club – any European publisher, big or small, traditional or newcomer, who wishes to take part in any of the elements of the initiative will be welcome.

Journalism organisations – who play such an important role in helping the news industry navigate the transition to digital – are also welcome, and I am pleased to say that we will be partnering with the European Journalism Center, the Global Editors Network and the International News Media Association. And this is just the beginning – we invite others to join us. You can find details on the website: digitalnewsinitiative.com – or use any good search engine

To conclude:

It would be wonderful if there was one big idea which could fix everything for the news industry. So let me say this – this initiative is not about Google trying to reinvent journalism or to fix the news industry once and for all. That is neither our responsibility nor something we could hope to achieve.

I should also make it clear that much as we admire quality journalism we have no plans to get involved in creating or commissioning news. Although we seem to be quite good at generating it!

But I can’t promise it will be smooth. At Google we know that innovation is never a linear process. It’s always messy and often happens in random ways. Sometimes – often – we fail.

But I am convinced we will achieve much more if journalism and technology work together rather than apart.

Thank you

Posted by Al Verney, Corporate Communications Continua a leggere

TechRaking London: muckrakers tackle climate change

A free and robust press is a fundamental pillar of an open and democratic society. Ever since the earliest newspapers, journalists have worked hard to give the public the information they need to bring about better communities. In today’s world, new technologies offer new opportunities for great journalism focused on the public good.

In that spirit, the News Lab at Google is teaming up with The Center for Investigative Reporting in 2015 for a series of events that will connect journalists, technologists and designers and develop transformative solutions to some of the challenges faced by communities around the world.

The name of the series is TechRaking – a modern twist on an early twentieth century term for investigative journalism, “muckraking” – and our first event will be in London on March 25th.

Each TechRaking event will focus on a specific design challenge. The focus of TechRaking London will be climate change. Participants will be asked to design a product or service that engages audiences and inspires them to tackle climate change, while also revealing the scale of the issue in new and insightful ways. Additional TechRaking events, on other themes, will follow in Berlin and Paris, as well as in the US and Canada.

The best ideas from TechRaking, as judged by an independent panel, will come to life as services, products and practices in journalism, thanks to our partnership with TWG, who will be providing design and development time to turn top ideas into working prototypes. We hope these collaborations will result in new public tools to help us all ensure journalism, through technology, ensures access to critical information for everyone.

Posted by Ryan Bruno, Manager, News Lab Continua a leggere

Challenging journalism’s status quo

The countdown has begun. The Global Editors Network has announced its shortlist of 75 finalists for the Data Journalism Awards, supported by Google and the Knight Foundation. Winners will be named at GEN’s upcoming summit in Barcelona on June 12.

The young field of data journalism–analyzing large datasets to unearth news stories and information–is growing tremendously. The 2014 Data Journalism Awards received a record 520 submissions, 200 more than last year. A total of 65 countries were represented. While some newsrooms around have installed dedicated specialists to focus on reporting based on data, Mirko Lorenz, Director of the 2014 Data Journalism Awards, said solo journalists accounted for the vast majority of submissions. “Journalists are taking it on themselves to use data for projects, for experimentation,” Lorenz said.

GEN champions journalistic innovation, demonstrating how the online world offers great opportunities for the future of journalism. Its summit this year in Barcelona is entitled “Mobile. Video. Data. Challenge the Status Quo.” Sessions and keynotes will revolve around the idea that these three things must be top-of-mind in the modern newsroom. Speakers range from the Guardian’s lead digital strategist Wolfgang Blau to Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hersch.

This is GEN’s fourth annual summit – take a look below at highlights from last year’s event in Paris.

This year’s summit promises to be three days of hard work and learning – and also a treat. One of the featured speakers will be Ferran Adria, the famed Catalan chef and founder of the restaurant El Bulli. See you in Barcelona.

Posted by Peter Barron, Director, Communications, Europe, Middle East and Africa
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Working with news publishers in Madrid

High-quality content is important to the web and we are committed to working with publishers to ensure that readers find their content. Our Publisher Advisory Council, bringing together our advertising and product teams with top media executives, meets about twice a year since 2009 in different venues in Europe.

The Council’s next session opens tomorrow in Madrid. Although planned months ago, it comes at important time, just as a debate has opened in Spain about whether publishers should be paid for linking their content. At the Advisory Council, we will concentrate on forging win-win business deals. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy recently made the same point, urging Internet companies and publishers to reinforce their commercial agreements.

The Council’s goal is to create a virtuous circle: more, better engaged users, generating more revenue, and ultimately enabling greater investment in higher quality content. Google drives 10 billion clicks a month to publisher websites for free. Each click represents a business opportunity, offering the chance to show ads, register users and win loyal readers. In 2013, we shared more than $9 billion with our AdSense publisher partners.

Beyond our AdSense advertising program, other Google tools allow publishers to make money from their content. DoubleClick offers ways to show display ads. Ad Exchange maximizes the value of ad space on an impression-by-impression basis. YouTube channels, video embeds and YouTube Direct create new opportunities for publishers to create new video sources of revenue.

We are keen to help news organisations make the transition to digital journalism. For 2014 our Google Journalism Fellowship will fund 11 students a summer internship with organizations steeped in everything from investigative journalism to press freedom and to those helping the industry figure out its future in the digital age. In Europe, we have partnered with the Global Editors Network on a series of “Editors Lab” events, including this recent hackathon in Barcelona. We funded Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism’s report on the future of journalism and Oliver & Ohlbaum’s report on the impact of the Internet on journalism.

The Internet lives on the oxygen of information. It needs quality journalism. Commercial agreements with publishers are a win-win solution and preferable to regulations that damage innovation as a pillar of the economic recovery. We are ready to play our part in working with the news industry to find a way for it to thrive in the new digital age.

Posted by Bárbara Navarro, Director Public Policy for Southern Europe
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Working with Spanish Publishers

The cafe in our Madrid office was full with guests, news publishers, members of the Spanish Association of Publishers of Periodicals (AEEPP) who had come to learn about how web tools could boost their businesses. Under a recently signed partnership, we are working designed to “increase visibility” of their publications online and seek sustainable business models in the digital world.

AEPP members attended a workshop at Google’s Madrid offices

It’s no secret that the news industry has been through a period of upheaval. As our chief economist Hal Varian noted last year in a speech at the Perugia Journalism Festival, while the Internet has made distribution much easier and cheaper, it has also increased the supply of news and competition for readers, challenging traditional business models. At the same time, media consultancy Oliver & Ohlbaum recently published a study showing that the net is powering the rise of exciting new voices and small players. YouTube stars are building fame online before securing a record deal or a film contract. Newshounds now discover, share, and comment on stories on platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

Many win-win ways exist for Google and publishers to join forces in the new digital universe. We drive traffic to publishers – ten billion clicks a month around the globe, offering publishers 100,000 business opportunities per minute. In 2013, our AdSense program paid out $9 billion a year to web publishers worldwide. Publishers remain free, with the addition of just a few lines of code, to pull out of Google web search and Google News. Publishers also remain free to determine whether to put their articles discovered through Google search behind a paywall.

We have set up a working group to discuss these new digital solutions with the AEEPP members in Spain. Our joint goal, in the association’s own words, is to find tools that new technologies offer publishers to “increase the monetization of their content, give greater visibility to their websites and strengthen their relationship with their own readers.” During the recent workshop at our Madrid office, we demoed Webmaster tools, designed to attract readers. We analysed digital advertising solutions. And we explained our fight against spam.

The AEEPP represents Spain’s small and medium-size publishers. They like how all media are equally likely to appear in Google News. Today, more than 25,000 news organizations across the globe make their content available in Google News and other web search engines. We remain open to work with all publishers, big and small, local and national, to help them manage the transition to the new digital age.

Posted by Fran Ruiz Anton, Senior Public Policy Manager, Madrid
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