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Business

Can Fast Flip build a business model

The main benefit of FastFlip is that it keeps out the riffraff. Scaled, complete, "real" news sources, magazines, and publisher-owned sites only, please. If you're not big enough to negotiate a contract with Google for your content, you're not big enough to get on FastFlip.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive on

Google News is much, much better, in many ways, than Google's new FastFlip.

So why bother? Because, by giving publishers control over what content a user browses with the software, they can deliver Google a business model.

Google News has long been controversial with publishers for several reasons. The most important is that it uses a Google bot as its editor. All competing outlets are in the same vat of news, so you may end up seeing a second-hand iteration of the story, or a comment on it, before the actual reporting.

Google News has been around for several years, yet to this day there are no ads on its main page. It delivers revenue and links to publishers but no revenue to its maker. And the publishers still claim the site is "stealing" from them by adding lead paragraphs and thumbnail pictures.

In the past Google has sought to respond by doing deals with major news services like AFP and AP, hosting their stories on ad-soaked pages, passing along the bulk of the revenue. But this has cut the market for AP stories on partner Web sites. The solution just creates a new problem. Publishers scream louder.

FastFlip tries to solve this by limiting the number of outlets available. A page on politics culls just a dozen sources, each a scaled "professional" publishing organization willing to sign a business agreement.

Google hosts publisher pages on FastFlip, including ads, so there's a defined business model and a benefit to publishers in faster page loads. Users can click through to "inside pages" so there's a second publisher benefit, increased traffic.

The main benefit of FastFlip is that it keeps out the riffraff. Scaled, complete, "real" news sources, magazines, and publisher-owned sites only, please. If you're not big enough to negotiate a contract with Google for your content, you're not big enough to get on FastFlip.

By building a high barrier to entry against blogs and new entrants, and by having signed business agreements defining benefits and limiting Google's interference with their product, FastFlip is a godsend to publishers.

And if you look at Google News itself, you'll see a second bow to power. Click on a story claiming, say, 587 links and you'll get an intermediate page highlighting the stories of "reputable" news services and publisher-owned blog sites.

By raising barriers to entry against individual blogs and open source news sites, Google hopes to get publishers off its back. But I doubt that will happen, because once the other side knows it can move you, it will keep moving you until you're off the board.

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