Google drops publisher payment system in overhaul

Weeded out

Google is shutting its One Pass payment platform for online publishers as it continues streamlining its business to weed out poorly performing services. One Pass lets publishers charge consumers to read articles online, with Google taking a 10% slice of any revenue generated. The platform, aimed at news sites, was launched in February last year but failed to gain traction and is now being culled as part of a “spring cleaning” effort led by CEO Larry Page. 

Over the last six months we’ve done a lot of spring cleaning, although it’s all happened out of season,” says cloud services director Matthias Schwab. “Spring has now arrived and we’re ready to close a new round of products.”

Google is now migrating One Pass users to its recently-launched Consumer Surveys platform for online publishers, as it continues experimenting with the best way to monetise online content. Google has partnered with a number of publications, including the New York Times, to launch Consumer Surveys, which requires readers to complete a short survey before they can access particular articles. The service functions much like a paywall except that it is Google, rather than the consumer, that has to pay. Under the deal, Google pays publishers USD0.005 per completed transaction, with the firm then selling off the responses for a profit. First trialled in November last year, the surveys could be an attractive option for publishers afraid of alienating their readers by charging for content or with intrusive ads.

With newspaper circulation and print ad revenues continuing to shrink around the world, new models like Google’s consumer surveys are likely to become increasingly attractive to publishers, which are still struggling to monetise digital content. Earlier this month, Paycento announced that its payment service, which lets users pay via social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, is being tested by a European media firm. Meanwhile, a range of firms, from Next Issue Media to Apple to AOL, have launched digital newsstands aimed at making it easier for consumers to discover and subscriber to magazine content.

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