As Publishers Look to Diversify, Google News Makes Meaningful Changes

Cleaning up After Cambridge Analytica

More than halfway into 2018, the dust has only begun to settle following the Cambridge Analytica scandal that rattled Facebook and its legions of users. The massive data breach didn't just impact the platform — the repercussions also leaked into every corner of the digital ecosystem, affecting everyone. The scandal put a spotlight on the need for the platform giants to take more responsibility as powerful distributors of information, particularly in the realm of news. Now, as Facebook makes constant changes to protect their users' data and prevent the spread of more fake news, its co-chair in the duopoly, Google, has made moves to step up its own game.


In March 2018, the search engine first announced the Google News Initiative, a $300 million investment over the next three years to stop the spread of false news stories. In July 2018, Google announced that it would devote $25 million of the investment specifically to YouTube. Google will provide grants to credible news sources to help them create a sustainable video operation, and to expand their own team of experts to help news partners on the platform — among other YouTube-specific initiatives.

Google also announced in July new campaigns powered by artificial intelligence to optimize ad creatives and streamline ad rotation. Read more about these updates here.

Throughout the spring, Google announced several updates to the Google News app that leverages artificial intelligence to fight fake news and create a more personalized experience for readers. Here's a look at what was rolled out.

For You curates five of the most relevant headlines based on a user's interests, which is usually a mix of breaking, local, and topic-specific stories. User controls help the app learn more about each reader's interests, so the algorithm delivers more relevant results over time.

The "For You" feature on Google News. Image from Google.

Full Coverage allows users to explore a topic through multiple outlets, including other news sites, opinion pieces, and social commentary.

The Newsstand helps users explore every publisher available on Google News. And by using the Google Subscribe feature, readers can also subscribe to news publisher with one click when they discover them.

The Future of News Distribution

The changes Google made to its news offerings this year comes at a turbulent time for the platforms. With a spotlight on transparent and responsible journalism, Google News needs to appease two parties: Publishers need to be won over with a successful distribution strategy, and readers need to be assured that they're using a platform that's a safe place for the latest headlines.

The newest numbers from Pew Research Center show that 93% of Americans get at least some of their news online. This includes both legacy news outlets such as The Washington Post, and new media political sources such as Axios. It's a competitive market not just for the outlets themselves, but also for the audiences they're trying to capture. It's why some publishers feel unnerved to turn over their content to third-party applications like Google News.

Regardless, the ongoing shift to digital doesn't mean news outlets — legacy or otherwise — can't have a reputable news business on the platforms and still generate revenue. What the rise of digital does mean is that the focus has shifted to the reader. With endless opportunities for content, the reader now plays a key role in not only what they consume, but how they choose to consume it.

Richard Gringras, Vice President of Google's News Division, cites this shift as what some have called "the democratization of news." The term refers to "a shifting philosophy in how a news organization engages with the community we once thought of only as 'the audience.'"


Richard Gringras talks about the future of journalism in Italy.

This is why it's important for publishers to make good use of every outlet available for distribution, including Google News. Whether it's in a publisher's strategy to pursue a subscription-based, donation-based, or purely ad revenue-based model, the content still needs to be freely accessible via the way their audience prefers to find it. Otherwise, it's likely to get lost in the oversaturated market.

How We Can Help

Google's changes this year show a renewed priority toward user experience, a key component in building loyalty. Even if Google News isn't right for your particular strategy, it's a good reminder that platforms are making meaningful changes to help publishers and the communities they hope to reach.

At RebelMouse, we can help your content travel across platforms like Google News, even if you aren't using our CMS. We're a team of traffic junkies who help make sure your distribution strategy caters to your content so you can reach your maximum audience with every publish.

Request a proposal today and let's start working together.

Articles Referenced

Why RebelMouse Is the Best Content Marketing Platform

RebelMouse is a unique platform and company. The company was founded on the vision that media companies would need an always-modern solution to thrive in the new connected internet, and that brands would have to behave like new media companies and use the same platforms.

Keep reading... Show less

Why Premium Creative Agencies and CTOs Choose to Develop on RebelMouse vs. WordPress and Drupal

The Intersection of Design and Development: Where Your Clients Thrive

We started RebelMouse seven years ago knowing that there was a fundamental design flaw in the world of traditional CMSs: Every instance, on every platform, had to be updated independently. It's similar to an era when users had to manage their own Microsoft Exchange Server for email. The costs of managing, maintaining, and iterating on a CMS to keep it awesome and world class is typically a $10 million-a-year endeavor. But even then, these cost-prohibitive CMSs are still behind the times.

Keep reading... Show less

Native Multivariate Testing at Scale With RebelMouse

What Differentiates Our Approach

There are many popular tools that allow you to perform experiments and A/B tests on your users — primarily Google Chrome Experiments and Optimizely. But all of these solutions are JavaScript additions to your web page that sidestep the problem of old, outdated, and clumsy CMSs. These solutions work by calling on a third-party JavaScript library that rewrites a page after it's rendered. This approach adds extra page weight and creates strange user experiences due to having to wait for everything to load and be rewritten on the fly.

At RebelMouse, we've solved this in a very elegant way. At the core level of our platform, we can natively render different layouts and track the exact differences in performance when comparing a test to your other layouts.

Keep reading... Show less

Modern E-Commerce: Blur the Line Between Content and Design

Create Modular + Reusable Design Patterns on RebelMouse

Content saturation is an industry-wide problem, and the e-commerce space is no exception given that it's filled with big brands, small Etsy stores, and everyone in between all fighting for similar audiences. The best way to fight this symptom is to understand your audience and provide them with what they want.

Keep reading... Show less

Instagram-style E-commerce Features on RebelMouse

Revolutionizing E-commerce on RebelMouse

Whether you're a brand with a blog or a media company with a site, driving purchasing behavior and building an audience that uses your content to find things they love to buy is vital. We're very proud to have built out the same functionality that everyone is now used to on Instagram, with layovers on images that lead to products with attribution.

Keep reading... Show less

Building Premium Communities and User Journeys on RebelMouse

RebelMouse is much more than just a replacement for a traditional CMS. Our platform is a tremendous community-building experience. Today's social ecosystem has given us a seemingly limitless number of premium creators who understand how to create gorgeous and relevant content that drives the growth of their own audiences. These creators and influencers are either experts in certain topics, or heavily engaged in targeted content that drives their interests. They're not only consuming the content they're passionate about, but they're contributing to the conversation, too. The new role of the editor is not just to cover the most important topics and people around their expertise, but also to invite those preferred influencers into their community and get them to participate in creating premium content.

Read our deck here...

Keep reading... Show less

Dynamic Voting: Grow Traffic and Engagement Organically

Help your audience find its voice.

Creating quality content is no longer on marketers alone. We live in a universe of creators who are willing to not only consume content that resonates, but play a role in the creation, promotion, and conversations surrounding it.

Since the start of RebelMouse, we've been on a journey to create dynamic media that is easier for content creators to curate and amplify on social. It's why we've built an online engagement platform centered around the power of communities that thrive naturally in the digital ecosystem.

Keep reading... Show less

How to Monetize Your Website in Today’s Publishing Environment

In order to define distributive publishing, we have to ask the following question: If you have quality content, but nobody sees it, does it even exist? The answer is no, because your content needs to be supported in a way that lets it move seamlessly across all channels, especially site, search, and social. But let's take this question a step further: If you can't monetize your content to generate the support it needs, how do you create quality content in the first place?

Keep reading... Show less

A Modern Story of Web Performance From RebelMouse Founder + CEO Andrea Breanna

If I had more time, this website would have loaded faster

In the first months of 2020, we've focused at RebelMouse on page speed and performance. We worked very hard and found ways to take 90% of the sites we power to 90+ performance scores via Google's PageSpeed Insights tool — even with sites that are loaded with ads, embeds, third-party analytics, and other typical slow-loading elements. You can read more about our victories here.

A few months after we started this process, COVID-19 hit the world very hard. Suddenly, every media company was faced with a huge problem: Advertising fell off a cliff in what seemed like seconds. The only way to survive this unprecedented downturn is to grow traffic and control costs at the same time. So we started to shave our code and made our websites faster. We dropped costs just as dramatically as we were increasing scores.

Here are some surprises we found when doing this: If you want truly exceptional performance, none of the JavaScript and CSS frameworks that developers love so much make the cut. We thought the React version of RebelMouse was going to be the huge page speed breakthrough, until we realized the only way to achieve this goal was to write the code carefully and refactor it endlessly until it was as short as possible. As any author will tell you, like editing a book or a blog post, the revision process is never really done. By stepping away from frameworks, and methodically shaving vanilla code, our customers continue to see major improvements in performance.

As we announced this to our site network and rolled it out publicly, many of our clients asked me personally, "How did you do it?" The answer is easy to understand regardless of how technical you may be. It's perfectly summarized in this wonderful quote attributed to Mark Twain:

"If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter."
—Blaise Pascal, 1657 (and later, more famously Mark Twain)

The universe is sometimes very beautiful, and especially when you keep it simple. If you would like to start publishing on a site optimized for both speed and sustainability, request a proposal and let's start working together.

Google Launches Journalism Emergency Relief Fund for COVID-19 Publishers

Through the Google News Initiative, relief fund aids news outlets covering the virus

Small and medium-sized news organizations producing original content about the COVID-19 pandemic for their local communities could be eligible for money from Google.

The search engine announced a global Journalism Emergency Relief Fund through the Google News Initiative to support journalism during the crisis. Funds will range from the low thousands to tens of thousands depending on the size of the newsroom, according to Google.

Keep reading... Show less
Subscribe to Our Newsletter