Google: 'Working with publishers to monetise online'

Google has pledged to work with publishers to help them make the same return from online advertising as print.

Speaking at the Fipp World Magazine Congress in London this morning, Google UK managing director Matt Brittin said bridging the gap between online advertising returns and print was still “very much a work in progress”.

The former Trinity Mirror executive told delegates: “We’re working very hard with publishers to try to figure out the best way of monetising online.

“We have to work on targeting and relevance to try to make online advertising more relevant and help you to make a commensurate return online as offline.”

Brittin said Google shared $5bn in advertising revenue with publishing partners worldwide last year.

“Bearing in mind this is a 10-year-old medium, we’re making some progress. But it’s very much a work in progress,” he added.

Google predicts that the current economic downturn will accelerate the move online – but Brittin said publishers were well-placed to take advantage of this.

“It’s the first downturn in a truly digital age,” he told the conference this morning.

“There is a tremendous opportunity for publishers. People are spending nearly a third of their time online – a significant chunk of their media time online.”

He added: “People are participating actively online – many of them are posting comments to blogs and reviews on Amazon and TripAdvisor.

“If you look at YouTube it’s not just a passive experience. People aren’t just watching, they’re uploading and participating.

“In a world where everybody’s a publisher, what’s needed more than ever are people with editing skills.”

Brittin said the number of Google searches for magazines had risen by 225 per cent between 2005 and this year.

And he said it was easier now than ever before for publishers to find out more about who their online readers are and what they do.

He said: “I think there are huge opportunities for publishers to use similar technologies to understand how people are engaging with their content – a huge amount of data out there.”

Several speakers at this year’s conference have voiced concern about the fact that Google is making money out of their content and giving little in return.

Guardian Media Group chief executive Carolyn McCall said yesterday that the traffic Google drives to news websites is “no longer a fair swap because we can’t really monetise traffic in the way we were”.

Chief executive of India Today Group Aroon Purie speaking at the same session said: “The digital model being followed by media in developed countries is a pretty dumb model. You have a monopolistic newsstand like Google putting your content out for free, competing for selling advertising with you and your digital sites.

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