Newspack: WordPress & Google Joint Venture for News Publishing

Newspack WordPress & Google

Google has been developing WordPress products for several years and launched Newspack as a partnership with Automattic, Google News Initiative, and the Knight Foundation to help publishers manage and monetize their online news stories.

WordPress powers between 20-30% of the Internet’s content depending on who did the counting. Google powers more than 90% of search traffic and is undoubtedly the largest driver of traffic to news sites, so it makes sense that this partnership would exist. But Google is also newspaper’s competition in terms of delivering news stories and undercutting the need for subscriptions. Not to mention the pittance that AdSense pays out.

This service isn’t exactly free. It’s free for 2019, but in 2020, Newspack will cost between $1,000-$2,000/month.

Now for anyone who has actually seen an AdSense report, even for large sites will realize that this product has a long way to go to break even on Google AdSense.

Essentially this product is WordPress with the following Google services:

There are free plugins that can accomplish all of this and even more with premium plugins. But can your publication implement the code? Can you recruit talent and manage them effectively? Over time will it be better to build the value within your own organization? There are guidelines for this, but does it apply when you are in an industry-wide crisis?

I think you can see why some managers might just punt and opt for Google’s option.

Google and the news industry has been a very one-sided relationship. Google is one of the world’s most profitable companies and newspapers are closing their doors and stopping their presses across the country. Not certain if small publishers can afford $1,000-$2,000/month and it’s not clear if you can really break even, and then what do you do in year when the free trial ends and you have committed to the platform already?

How do you evaluate this service?

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