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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

How to Include Interactive Elements in Posts

Enhance your articles with rich and creative media

Every article is a fresh chance to grab new readers and nurture loyal followers. This is why we give creators every opportunity to build content rich with media elements that enhance every reader's experience.

Add More Layers to Your Content

You can easily add interactive elements, like charts, to posts on our platform. For example, if you need to embed iframe code into a post, this can be done via our Add Media Bar. To do so, click the code icon (< >):

A text box will appear so you can insert your code:

Embedded Code Across Platforms

One important thing to keep in mind is that Google AMP, AppleNews, and Facebook Instant Articles will not always support embedded code. So if you use an iframe, it's best to turn off distribution to those channels for that particular post. If you have a lot of posts that require embedded code, this could be problematic for growth across those important platforms.

If you do want to use an iframe on a post destined for Google AMP distribution, it can be possible if the iframe is not at the top of the page or within the first 75% of the viewport when the page is scrolled to the top (whichever is smaller). AMP is a fast technology designed for mobile users and iframes are loaded using arbitrary timing that AMP's technology cannot ensure. For this reason, it's suggested that iframes be included in places that are not visible by users upon load.

If you have an article that needs to include an iframe at the top of the page, or within the first 75% of the viewport, AMP can be turned off for that individual article within Entry Editor.

If you don't need an interactive chart to be interactive in nature, can turn it into an image and upload it directly to your post. This way it will work on all platforms, including Google AMP, Apple News, and Facebook Instant Articles. This option, when possible, is ideal to ensure you're optimized for page speed.

Take Advantage of Shortcodes

Another great way to embed media is through our shortcodes functionality. Click here to learn more about shortcodes. Shortcodes can also inserted using the Add Media Bar. Click the brackets icon ([ ]) to choose the shortcode you want to use.

Here's an example of a chart on an article page that's been inserted using a shortcode:

If you have any questions about how to add interactive elements to your content, please email support@rebelmouse.com or talk to your account manager today.

Shortcodes Dashboard: Dynamic Media in Just a Few Clicks

Create multidimensional content with easy-to-find shortcodes

We believe static media is dead, and that every piece of content should be multidimensional and engaging. This is why our platform enables creators so they can add dynamic media to their content in easy and efficient ways.

One simple way to add interactive content to any post is through the use of shortcodes. Shortcodes are small snippets of code that are easier to remember than longer sequences. They typically will activate a feature or embed media into an article.

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