EU publishers sign deal with Google, but are they focusing on the right enemy?


According to a number of sources — including the Guardian, as well as journalism professor Jeff Jarvis and Capital New York columnist Ken Doctor — Google will announce tomorrow that it has formed a partnership with eight European publishers, including the Guardian, the Financial Times, El Pais and Die Zeit and is creating a 150 million Euro “innovation fund.”

It’s probably no coincidence that Google has been under fire in the EU of late, with allegations that it has distorted search results as well as a burgeoning antitrust investigation into allegedly anti-competitive practices. Many publishers have also complained for years about Google News “stealing” their content, and the partnership deal is roughly similar to other deals the search giant has cut in Belgium and France. Says the Guardian piece on the announcement:

In the new partnership with eight publishers, including the Guardian, Google is to establish a working group to focus on product development as well as providing a €150m (£107m) innovation fund over three years, alongside additional training and research. Publishers are keenest to explore the product development which Google promises will aim to “increase revenue, traffic and audience engagement”.

While publishers and media types in the EU celebrated the announcement, others said they would much rather than publishers do their own innovating instead of relying on Google to do it for them — or to pay them to do it. On top of that, I have to wonder whether the media outlets involved in this deal are cutting a deal with the wrong enemy. As social discovery overtakes search (particularly for millennials), it feels as though they should be more concerned about Facebook rather than Google.

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