Tag Archives: Google News Initiative

Our new training gives small newsrooms a digital boost

Whether you’re a well-established publisher like The New York Times or a relatively new player like JOTA in Brazil, digital products are likely key to your success. That’s because in today’s publishing landscape, digital media is crucial to make sure content reaches people—-and that news organizations stay financially sustainable. 

But it can be difficult to find the right people to fill product roles within news organizations, according to a Digiday survey of more than 130 publishing executives conducted last year. There’s a limited pool of product experts who can combine technical expertise with principles like journalism ethics. This issue can be especially acute for small newsrooms, which have limited resources.

In February, we launched a pilot with our partners at News Catalyst and J+ at the Craig Newmark Graduate Journalism School at CUNY to train journalists on how to use digital tools to tackle traditional problems. We do this through a principle called product thinking, which prioritizes users and emphasizes problem-solving through cross-functional collaboration. Product thinking is a concept that is very familiar here at Google, as one of our main pillars is focusing on the user, making sure we provide the best experience possible for people who use our products. 

Now, we’re taking this program further. We’re inviting journalists in the Americas to sign up for the Product Immersion Training for Small Newsrooms, a program designed to help news organizations expand their in-house talent and create a better understanding of how to develop digital products. Using a flipped classroom approach—in which students go through carefully-produced material at home and bring their questions to class to work on as a group—participants will learn from news industry leaders on how to nurture and grow a strong product culture in a newsroom. 

Students will develop the ability to think across disciplines and to define and execute a strategy, balancing the needs of the user with the tenets of journalism. Over eight weeks they will also receive coaching from product experts from across the world to apply the lessons to their own newsrooms. 

If you're interested in learning how to use product thinking in your newsroom and live anywhere in North, Central and South America, apply for the Product Immersion Training for Small Newsrooms today. News organizations with fewer than 50 journalists on staff are eligible to apply. No prior knowledge is required, only an interest in establishing practices that better serve the needs of your audience and finding new paths towards media sustainability. 

The program is tuition-free and we encourage participants from underrepresented backgrounds to apply. Applications are open starting today and go through November 11. The Americas participants will be announced mid-December and classes will start in early January 2021. 


A path to sustainability led by digital subscriptions

During my 10 years at The Boston Globe, we took a different path than most publishers. In 2011, we built a state-of-the-art website that was supported almost entirely by digital subscriptions, at a time when it was uncertain if readers would ever pay for news online. Today, digital subscriptions revenue alone more than covers for the cost of The Globe’s newsroom. Motivated to help others in the industry, I’ve since joined FTI Consulting, where I advise local publishers as they navigate the same existential business questions as we did.

Since I spent the last decade of my life pioneering a new business model for journalism, people often ask me if digital subscriptions can be a viable strategy for local news. Experience has taught me the simple answer is yes.

That’s why FTI Consulting partnered with the Google News Initiative on the GNI Digital Growth Program, a free program to help more small and mid-sized news publishers around the world achieve digital success. Reader revenue is central to the program’s curriculum, which is supported through playbooks, interactive exercises, workshops and labs. The workshops are currently guiding publishers through reader revenue models and sharing lessons learned from news organizations around the world, including those which have participated in the GNI Subscriptions Labs in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific.

Publishers in the North America program, which FTI Consulting partnered on with Google and the Local Media Association, are great examples of the growth potential for local news. While the year-long Lab focused on helping news companies dive deep on digital subscriptions wrapped about six months ago, these publishers share a continued commitment to sustainability led by reader revenue.

As of August, the median year-over-year gain in digital subscriptions revenue for the participating publishers was 86 percent, compared to the industry average of 45 percent. While the business model of each organization is unique, these publishers achieved a higher level of performance by rallying around a shared set of digital metrics proven to make business impact.

For starters, they nearly doubled the conversion rates of their online readers to paying subscribers since the start of the Lab. They achieved this dramatic increase through a variety of tested tactics, including making digital subscriptions a priority, asking readers more often to subscribe and sign up for newsletters, improving and simplifying the online subscription checkout process and increasing website page speed. 

What may be most impressive, though, is that these publishers were able to grow their overall number of subscribers without deep discounts or aggressive promotional offers. In fact, they raised the prices of their digital subscription offerings, even during today’s pandemic. The group’s average revenue per user (ARPU) has increased by 24 percent.

More important than the tactical improvements, publishers involved with the Lab have been able to create the “reader revenue machine,” a term that I use to describe a publisher that has put in place the mindset, processes, capabilities and technology to grow reader revenue continuously. 

A good example of this transformation is The Portland Press Herald. In March, they launched “Digital Only Mondays,” which means they no longer print physical newspapers on Mondays. Within the first few weeks, this experiment increased the digital engagement of their print subscribers by 26 percent, and significantly reduced costs by eliminating one day of printing. The result as of July: The Press Herald was up 114 percent in digital subscriptions revenue compared to last year, and their staff gained the confidence to make bold decisions to support their digital transformation.

The reader revenue growth of The Press Herald is just one example of the bright spots I’ve seen shaping the future of local news. Through the GNI Digital Growth Program, I’m looking forward to working with Google to scale these insights and real world examples to help more publishers build sustainable business models for local journalism.

For those interested in learning more about the best practices that have helped publishers achieve digital subscriber success, join me, Google, other industry leaders and nearly 2,000 news organizations globally for our Reader Revenue workshops. Coming up next week, I will co-host a panel on this very topic. To sign up, visit the workshop registration page.


Journalist Studio premieres with two new tools for reporters

From long-term investigative projects that expose wrongdoing to breaking news analysis of important court decisions, quality journalism often relies on giant collections of documents, images and audio recordings. Reporters are often faced with a tough choice: Take weeks and go it alone, enlist a team of colleagues or try to write a program to scrape the data. 

This well-known frustration was a large focus of my newsroom career when I was the director of digital operations at The Washington Post and Politico’s director of digital product. I found myself constantly working towards a solution for this question: How can reporters focus more time on their core strengths: finding the story, reporting it out and writing the narrative? 

Our team at Google spent the past two years working collaboratively with newsrooms to help tackle this problem. What would it look like if we put the best of Google’s search, AI and machine learning technology into the hands of reporters?

Today we’re announcing Journalist Studio, a suite of tools that uses technology to help reporters do their work more efficiently, securely and creatively, and two new products for reporters. 

The first tool is Pinpoint. Pinpoint helps reporters quickly go through hundreds of thousands of documents by automatically identifying and organizing the most frequently mentioned people, organizations and locations. Instead of asking users to repeatedly hit “Ctrl+F,” the tool helps reporters use Google Search and Knowledge Graph, optical character recognition and speech-to-text technologies to search through scanned PDFs, images, handwritten notes, e-mails and audio files.

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Reporters can search documents in Pinpoint, which will highlight those terms and synonyms.

The tool has already proven useful for investigative projects like USA TODAY’s report on 40,600 COVID-19-related deaths tied to nursing homes and Reveal’s look into the COVID-19 “testing disaster” in ICE detention centers, as well as a Washington Post piece about the opioid crisis. Pinpoint’s speed also helped reporters with shorter-term projects like Philippines-based Rappler’s examination of CIA reports from the 1970s and breaking news situations like the Mexico-based Verificado MX’s quick fact checking of the government’s daily pandemic updates.

Pinpoint is available now and reporters can sign up to request access. The tool enables journalists to upload and analyze documents in seven languages: English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portugese and Spanish. To boost collaboration, we’ve also partnered with The Center for Public Integrity, Document Cloud, Stanford University’s Big Local News program and The Washington Post to create shared public collections that are available to all users. 

The second tool we’re launching is a beta preview of The Common Knowledge Project, a new way for journalists to explore, visualize and share data about important issues in their local communities. Reporters can create their own interactive charts from thousands of data points in minutes, embed them in stories and share them out on social media. 

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An example of a Common Knowledge Project data visualization comparing the number of people of certain ages in two different cities.

The Common Knowledge Project is built by Polygraph, an award-winning visual journalism team, and supported by the Google News Initiative. The data comes from Data Commons, which compiles and joins thousands of public datasets from organizations including theU.S. Census and the CDC. Currently, the tool includes U.S. data on issues like demographics, economy, housing, education, and crime. Have features you’d like to see? Let Polygraph know through the tool’s feedback form. 

If you’d like to learn more about how to use Pinpoint and The Common Knowledge Project, join us at one of our upcoming virtual events. The first is at the Online News Association’s conference on Thursday, October 15. Beginning the week of October 20, the Google News Initiative training also kicks off a six-part series focused on tools for reporters in seven different languages across nine regions. Sign up and join us for these online events to learn more. 

Quality journalism is critical to our societies. In launching these tools, we look forward to continuing to use the best of Google to support that important work. 

News Brief: September updates from the Google News Initiative

This month, we’re connecting virtually with members of the news industry through workshops and events to help drive digital growth and innovation. As students head back to school, we’re partnering with local organizations and educators to help young people separate fact from fiction online. We’re also working with our partners to develop new resources for local news. Read on for September updates.

Free online reader revenue workshops

Through the GNI Digital Growth Program, we’ll be running a series of workshops focused on reader revenue in Asia Pacific, North America, and Latin America throughout October and November. Sign ups are open now and workshops will be available in five languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese and Korean. 

Helping students to navigate information online in Latin America and Germany

We launched True/False, a site for young people to learn about misinformation through an interactive game. The project is carried out in collaboration with Red/Acción, SocioPúblico and UNICEF. The game allows students to learn how to identify fact from fiction online, and the site includes free classroom guides that teachers can use throughout Latin America.

In partnership with DIE ZEI in Germany, we launchedZEIT für Lehrer, a learning platform for educators to help students identify misinformation online. We also ran the first of its kindZeit für Lehrer Unconference, a virtual event with more than 200 educators. We tackled topics such as resilience, disinformation, cyber mobbing and a digital future of education.

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News Impact Summits go virtual

October marks the start of this year’sNews Impact Summits, organized in partnership with theEuropean Journalism Centre. For the first time in its six-year history, the events will be moving online, but our core objective stays the same. We want to help build a community of international and local media professionals and offer an opportunity to meet, network, learn and get inspired by others. The three summits are free to access and will focus on Audience, Audio & Voice and Data Journalism. To register and learn more, visit newsimpact.co.  


Participants selected for the Asia Pacific Subscriptions Lab 

Eight publishers from Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia and Taiwan were selected to join the GNI APAC Subscriptions Lab. The Lab is developed in partnership with FTI Consulting and WAN-IFRA and draws on FTI Consulting’s expertise in helping global news publishers develop successful digital subscription businesses, and WAN-IFRA’s network of member news publishers.


Fostering innovation in Latin America

We selected 15 journalists from 13 digital native newsrooms and 11 countries to be part of the Innovation Workshop for Journalists in Latin America, offered by Mario Tascón and Fundación Gabo. The workshop focused on topics related to innovation, narrative, monetization and technology. Participants also engaged in a series of one-on-one mentoring sessions. 

Building a stronger future for publishers in Malaysia and Indonesia

We organized Think Media by Google in Malaysia, an event to help Malaysian news publishers familiarize themselves with Google tools, from News to Ads. We also featured our Google News Initiative work with Innovation Challenge recipient Malaysiakini. We also organized the third event in our Google for Media series in Indonesia, around the theme “Building an online audience,” showcasing our work with KG Media, Tempo Media Group and KapanLagi Youniverse, three of the biggest Indonesian media groups.

New resources to support local news 

Vox Media’s partnership with the GNI to launch Concert Local, an ad network that brings together a collection of trusted local news publishers for marketers, recently published research with Nielsen on “Why Supporting Local Journalism Is Good For Business.” The research underscores the opportunity for marketers and includes insights, such as local news sites providing an incremental audience reach of 38 percent versus national media properties. In addition, the study features data on how including local news sites as part of an ad campaign could significantly improve the performance of the campaign.


That’s all for September. Follow along on social for more updates.


Our $1 billion investment in partnerships with news publishers

One of the most enduring memories of my childhood is waiting for my father and grandfather to finish the paper over breakfast every morning so that I could get the latest headlines, especially in the sports section. To this day, my father still texts me whenever he sees something interesting in the news … which is a lot! I have always valued quality journalism and believed that a vibrant news industry is critical to a functioning democratic society. 

It’s equally important to Google’s mission to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. Over the last several years, we’ve taken many steps to support the news industry, from sending 24 billion visits to news websites globally every month, to the Google News Initiative’s $300 million commitment, including emergency funding for local publishers globally to help with the impact of COVID-19 and our Digital Growth Program aimed at small and medium-sized publishers to accelerate their business growth.

But there is more to do. Today I’m proud to announce Google is building on our long-term support with an initial $1 billion investment in partnerships with news publishers and the future of news.

A new kind of news experience

This financial commitment—our biggest to date—will pay publishers to create and curate high-quality content for a different kind of online news experience. Google News Showcase is a new product that will benefit both publishers and readers: It features the editorial curation of award-winning newsrooms to give readers more insight on the stories that matter, and in the process, helps publishers develop deeper relationships with their audiences.
Google News Showcase

Google News Showcase will start rolling out in Germany and Brazil today and come to other countries over time

News Showcase is made up of story panels that will appear initially in Google News on Android. The product will launch soon on Google News on iOS, and will come to Google Discover and Search in the future. These panels give participating publishers the ability to package the stories that appear within Google’s news products, providing deeper storytelling and more context through features like timelines, bullets and related articles. Other components like video, audio and daily briefings will come next. 

This approach is distinct from our other news products because it leans on the editorial choices individual publishers make about which stories to show readers and how to present them. It will start rolling out today to readers in Brazil and Germany, and will expand to other countries in the coming months where local frameworks support these partnerships.

We’ve signed partnerships for News Showcase with nearly 200 leading publications across Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, the U.K. and Australia. The publications include award-winning national titles likeDer Spiegel, Stern,Die Zeit, Folha de S.Paulo, Band and Infobaealongside regionally and locally significant publications such as El Litoral, GZH, WAZ and SooToday. The number of news publications will grow as we work to expand News Showcase to other countries including India, Belgium and the Netherlands.

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We’ve signed partnerships for News Showcase with nearly 200 leading publications across Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, the U.K. and Australia.

News Showcase builds on our existingnews licensing program, which is already paying publishers for quality journalism, and other news-related efforts like Subscribe with Google, Web Stories and audio news. And it will give readers more context and perspective on important stories in the news and drive high-value traffic to a publisher’s site.

Our long-term commitment

Both News Showcase and our financial investment—which will extend beyond the initial three years—are focused on contributing to the overall sustainability of our news partners around the world. 

The business model for newspapers—based on ads and subscription revenue—has been evolving for more than a century as audiences have turned to other sources for news, including radio, television and later, the proliferation of cable television and satellite radio. The internet has been the latest shift, and it certainly won’t be the last. Alongside other companies, governments and civic societies, we want to play our part by helping journalism in the 21st century not just survive, but thrive. 

Our GNI Fellows are defying the newsroom status quo

In March, just as I was finalizing the webpage for the Google News Initiative Fellowship program, much of the United States—and the world—went into lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Offices, including my own, closed and employees began working from home. Businesses shut their doors. Colleges sent students home to continue their studies virtually.

For students and recent graduates, a summer that was supposed to be spent taking classes, studying abroad or starting their first post-grad job turned into one of uncertainty. Many summer internships were deferred or altogether canceled due to the virus. Every industry has been impacted by the coronavirus, including the news media, which is vital in spreading important information about not only the pandemic, but also the upcoming election. 

For me, delaying the program was not an option, especially because a lack of newsroom diversity can negatively impact coverage of the pandemic and racial unrest. Though nothing can necessarily replace an in-person experience, we decided to add a remote option for the program, giving fellows the flexibility to work from home or the host newsroom if it is safe to do so. 

We received 476 applications for nine fellowship slots, which speaks to the unprecedented demand for these opportunities for aspiring journalists of color. 

“There can be no excellence without diversity — in local news especially, there's a responsibility to speak to the issues and experiences of the (diverse) community you serve,” Ana Ta, who will be working at the Houston Press, told me. “My time working in local journalism has taught me to value my perspective as an Vietnamese Houstonian, and I'm excited and grateful for this opportunity with the GNI to tell the stories of my city.”

For Luis Méndez, who will be joining La Noticia, the fellowship is not just an opportunity for himself. “I want to be an example for boys and girls and show them that it doesn't matter if you are from a small island called Puerto Rico, opportunities like these are possible with perseverance, passion and commitment,” he says.

Our selected Fellows all have different backgrounds and experiences, but two things they all have in common is the desire to help make American newsrooms look more like the audiences they cover and to tell the stories of communities that have been ignored for far too long.

“Ever since I was young, I've been passionate about pursuing journalism because I knew that it might grant me an opportunity to serve as a representative voice for communities and people who feel as if they don't have one,” said Isthmusfellow Tamia Fowlkes. “I  feel so honored and excited to participate in this program and I hope it will work to amplify and encourage diversity both in the news and writing it."

To learn more about all of our 2020 Google News Initiative Fellows and follow their work, visit our Fellowship website.


The newspaper app helping Japan’s elderly population

Japan’s elderly citizens often live alone, and many have little regular contact with other people. That social isolation not only puts their health at risk, but also makes them more vulnerable during natural disasters, and to scams like fraud and extortion.


Regional newspaper Iwate Nippo wanted to do something to help elderly residents of Iwate (Japan’s second-largest prefecture) access life-saving services and help them feel more of a sense of belonging in their communities. With funding from the Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge, they developed Iwapon, an app created specifically for their older subscribers. 


The app’s safety features include a monitoring system that alerts family members if their relative hasn’t used their phone for more than 24 hours, information on suspicious calls or texts and a disaster information center to notify residents about threat levels and shelter locations during floods, storms, earthquakes and other severe weather. 


But Iwapon also fights social isolation in other ways—for example, by connecting residents to local businesses through virtual coupons, sharing local community and school updates, and giving them the chance to speak to an “on-demand” journalist about any concerns or questions they might have. 


To find out a bit more, we talked to Takuya Watanabe, manager of the digital media strategy division at Iwate Nippo.

How did the idea of Iwapon come to life?

As a local newspaper, we inform people about community problems like social isolation, and we also feel a responsibility to help address them. We already work closely with the police and local government. We regularly receive advance information about natural disasters, evacuation plans and details on fraud and suspicious behaviors to look out for. We thought an easy-to-use app would be a simple way that we could deliver this important information to people at risk, as quickly and accurately as possible.

What has the reaction been to the app?


The app was downloaded thousands of times within only six months. But the impact went beyond that. Monthly new subscribers for the online newspaper increased by more than 50 percent, and local businesses have approached us to become sponsors. Most importantly, the atmosphere within the company has changed. The app has helped increase cooperation within the editorial, advertising and sales departments. It’s also had a huge positive impact on the motivation of younger employees. 

What’s next for Iwate Nippo and Iwapon?

The COVID-19 pandemic affected many local businesses. We are planning to support small- and medium-sized restaurants and shops in the area by promoting them in the app. After the pandemic, the challenges facing our region are changing day by day. Through the app, we will continue to work with the community, tackle local challenges and contribute to protecting the safety and lives of people in our prefecture. 


Helping global publishers accelerate business growth

Since launching the Google News Initiative in 2018, we’ve worked with news organizations of all sizes as they’ve adapted to the challenges of an increasingly digital world, which has impacted their business models and consumer behavior. Programs like our GNI Labs have helped publishers tackle specific business challenges, like digital subscriptions, advertising and data, while tools like News Consumer Insights have helped thousands of newsrooms grow their audiences online. 

During this time, we’ve learned from our partners that the shift to digital doesn’t happen overnight. It takes months and even years of hard work to attract and develop digitally-minded talent, adopt data-driven thinking and build an audience-first culture. Through the GNI, we want to support publishers with this transition. 

That’s why today, we’re introducing a global program to help news publishers navigate the complexity of digital transformation. The GNI Digital Growth Program is a free program aimed at helping small and mid-sized news publishers around the world develop the capabilities required to accelerate the growth of their businesses online. The program is informed by the lessons learned from GNI projects and programs, and was built in collaboration with industry experts including FT Strategies, FTI Consulting and Mather Economics, plus news industry associations including INMA, Local Media Association and WAN-IFRA

The GNI Digital Growth Program will initially focus on five topic areas: Reader Revenue, Audience Development, Advertising Revenue, Data and Product. Our curriculum includes playbooks full of real-world examples, interactive exercises to help solve business problems, workshops to bring these lessons to life and Labs to provide hands-on advisory support. At first, we’re focusing on our Reader Revenue pillar, with other topic areas coming over the next few months. Participating publishers can anticipate access to:


  • A comprehensive playbook that offers publishers strategies and real-world examples to help with building and optimizing a reader revenue model 

  • A set of interactive exercises, including an Opportunity Sizing exercise to help publishers estimate their potential reader revenue opportunity, a User Funnel diagnostic to identify areas for improvement across key reader revenue performance metrics and a Goal Setting exercise to build a plan for long-term reader revenue growth

  • Workshops led by top industry experts offering business recommendations

  • GNI Labs which provide a group of publishers with personalized support and one-on-one coaching from our industry partners

Publishers can access the free playbooks and exercises at any time on our online hub. The workshops are available on a first-come-first-served basis, while Labs will be available upon application. To sign up for our first series of workshops, please visit our GNI Digital Growth Program page

This program builds on our recently launched edition in Europe. We’ve now expanded to ten languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Polish, German, Korean, Japanese and Bahasa Indonesia. And as the curriculum evolves over time, we will introduce specialty sessions for publishers, such as Print-to-Digital Transformation and Digital Startups.

Google has long invested in supporting news organizations as they adapt their business models in an evolving media landscape. That’s why widely sharing our findings with the news industry has always been a cornerstone of the Google News Initiative’s approach. Through the GNI Digital Growth Program, we look forward to working with more news companies to think differently about their digital business, unlock new revenue opportunities and build sustainable growth online.



Our latest investments in information quality in Search and News

Delivering high-quality results is what has always set Google apart from other search engines, even in our earliest days. Over the years as the product and user experience have evolved, our investments in quality have accelerated. 


We conduct extensive testing to ensure that Search is as helpful as it can be—from the quality of information we deliver, to the overall experience. Since 2017, we’ve done more than 1 million search quality tests, and we now average more than 1,000 tests per day. 


In addition to investing in the overall Search experience, we also focus on providing reliable information for people everywhere. We’ve highlighted our fundamental approach and ongoing investment in this area, but we also wanted to share some of the new improvements we’ve made to continue to deliver high quality information.


In a year when access to reliable information is more critical than ever—from COVID-19 to natural disasters to important moments of civic participation around the world—our longstanding commitment to quality remains at the core of our mission to make the world’s information accessible and useful. 


New insights from our Intelligence Desk

With new things happening around the world every day, the information landscape can change quickly. To understand how our systems are performing when news breaks, we’ve developed an Intelligence Desk, which actively monitors and identifies potential information threats. 


This effort grew out of our Crisis Response team, which for years has done real-time tracking of events around the world, launching SOS Alerts in Search and Maps to help people get vital information quickly. Over the years, we’ve monitored thousands of events and launched hundreds of alerts to help keep people safe.


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Crisis events monitored (green) and SOS Alerts launched (red), 2016 - 2020.

The Intelligence Desk is a global team of analysts monitoring news events 24/7, spanning natural disasters and crises, breaking news moments and the latest developments in ongoing topics like COVID. When events occur, our analysts collect data about how our systems are responding and compile reports about narratives that are emerging, like new claims about COVID treatments. Our product teams use these data sets and reports from the Intelligence Desk to run more robust quality tests and ensure that our systems are working as intended for the wide range of topics people Search for.


Improving our systems for breaking news and crises

As news is developing, the freshest information published to the web isn’t always the most accurate or trustworthy, and people’s need for information can accelerate faster than facts can materialize. 


Over the past few years, we’ve improved our systems to automatically recognize breaking news around crisis moments like natural disasters and ensure we’re returning the most authoritative information available. We’ve also made significant strides in our overall ability to accurately identify breaking news moments, and do so more quickly. We’ve improved our detection time from up to 40 minutes just a few years ago, to now within just a few minutes of news breaking.

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Our improvements in detecting crisis events expands on our work in 2017 to improve the quality of results for topics that might be susceptible to hateful, offensive and misleading information. Those improvements remain fundamental to how we handle low-quality information in Search and News products, and since then, we’ve continuously updated our systems to be able to detect topic areas that may be at risk for misinformation. We’re continuing to train and test our systems to ensure that whatever people are searching for, they can find reliable information.


Providing accurate information from the Knowledge Graph

In Search, features like knowledge panels that display information from the Google Knowledge Graph help you get quick access to the facts from sources across the web. To deliver high-quality information in these features, we’ve deepened our partnerships with government agencies, health organizations and Wikipedia to ensure reliable, accurate information is available, and protect against potential vandalism.


For COVID-19, we worked with health organizations around the world to provide local guidance and information to keep people safe. To respond to emerging information needs, like the surge we saw in people searching for unemployment benefits, we provide easy access to information right from government agencies in the U.S. and other countries. For elections information, we work with non-partisan civic organizations that provide authoritative information about voting methods, candidates, election results and more.


Information in knowledge panels comes from hundreds of sources, and one of the most comprehensive knowledge bases is Wikipedia. Volunteer Wikipedia editors around the world have created robust systems to guard for neutrality and accuracy. They use machine learning tools paired with intricate human oversight to spot and address vandalism. Most vandalism on Wikipedia is reverted within a matter of minutes.
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To complement Wikipedia’s systems, we’ve added additional protections and detection systems to prevent potentially inaccurate information from appearing in knowledge panels. On rare occasions, instances of vandalism on Wikipedia can slip through. Only a small proportion of edits from Wikipedia are potential vandalism, and we’ve improved our systems to now detect 99 percent of those cases. If these issues do appear, we have policies that allow us to take action quickly to address them.


To further support the Wikipedia community, we created the WikiLoop program last year that hosts several editor tools focused on content quality. This includes WikiLoop DoubleCheck, one of a number tools Wikipedia editors and users can use to track changes on a page and flag potential issues. We contribute data from our own detection systems, which members of the community can use to uncover new insights.  


Helpful context from fact checks and Full Coverage

We design Search and News to help you see the full picture, by helping you easily understand the context behind information you might find online. We make it easy to spot fact checks in Search, News and, most recently, Google Images by displaying fact check labels. These fact checks and labels come from publishers that use ClaimReview schemato mark up fact checks they have created. This year to date, people have seen fact checks on Search and News more than 4 billion times, which is more than all of 2019 combined. 


We understand the importance of the fact checking ecosystem in debunking misleading information, which is why we recently donated an additional $6.5 million to help fact checking organizations and nonprofits focus on misinformation about the pandemic.


We also just launched an update using our BERT language understanding models to improve the matching between news stories and available fact checks. These systems can better understand whether a fact check claim is related to the central topic of a story, and surface those fact checks more prominently in Full Coverage—a News feature that provides a complete picture of how a story is reported from a variety of sources. With just a tap, Full Coverage lets you see top headlines from different sources, videos, local news reports, FAQs, social commentary, and a timeline for stories that have played out over time.


Expanded protections for Search features

We have policies for what can appear in Search features like featured snippets, lists or  video previews that uniquely highlight information on the search results page. One notable example is Autocomplete, which helps you complete your search more quickly.


We have long-standing policies to protect against hateful and inappropriate predictions from appearing in Autocomplete. We design our systems to approximate those policies automatically, and have improved our automated systems to not show predictions if we detect that the query may not lead to reliable content. These systems are not perfect or precise, so we enforce our policies if predictions slip through.


We expanded our Autocomplete policies related to elections, and we will remove predictions that could be interpreted as claims for or against any candidate or political party. We will also remove predictions that could be interpreted as a claim about participation in the election—like statements about voting methods, requirements, or the status of voting locations—or the integrity or legitimacy of electoral processes, such as the security of the election. What this means in practice is that predictions like “you can vote by phone” as well as “you can't vote by phone,” or a prediction that says “donate to” any party or candidate, should not appear in Autocomplete. Whether or not a prediction appears, you can still search for whatever you’d like and find results. 


Information online is constantly changing—as are the things people search for—so continuing to deliver high-quality information is an area of ongoing investment. We’ve made great strides and built upon successful improvements to our systems, and we’ll continue to look for new ways to make Search and News as reliable and helpful as possible, no matter what you’re looking for.


Source: Search


How we’re supporting the news with our marketing

As every marketing team knows, staying on top of the news is critical to developing campaigns that are thoughtful, relevant and helpful to people’s lives. Not only do we depend on news publishers to inform our marketing, but we also have a deep respect for the important work journalists do to keep everyone informed and safe.

But in the wake of the coronavirus, many publishers have been facing challenges funding the journalism we all rely on. While Google has long spent its marketing dollars with news organizations, a few months ago, we set out to think about how we could do even more to help the news industry through this challenging time. 

Building on ongoing efforts across our company, we've made four commitments to better support high-quality journalism with our marketing. Here's more about the steps we’ve taken and what we've learned.

1. Invest more with news organizations

News publishers provide an effective platform for advertisers to engage audiences. We also think it’s important to support journalism financially with our marketing.


For the first time, we’re holding ourselves to a marketing spend goal with the news category. Back in March, we committed to invest over $100 million with news organizations around the world by the end of the year. We’re well on our way to hitting this goal.

2. Revisit brand safety settings

Like many marketers, we added “coronavirus” to our negative keyword list when COVID-19 first hit as a brand safety precaution. These lists are intended to prevent ads from showing up next to unsuitable content.


As COVID-19 became a mainstream topic that dominated the news cycle, we realized that we were being too conservative in our approach. We decided to remove “coronavirus” from our negative keyword list, which led to a 25 percent increase in the placement of our ads on news content, more effective campaigns, and more of our marketing dollars going to high-quality news publishers. To help other marketers support news organizations too, our colleagues working on Google Ads and Display & Video 360 added alerts within the product, prompting brands using “coronavirus” negative keywords to consider removing these phrases, so their campaigns could similarly reach news sites.


This inspired us to do a broader audit of our brand safety strategies to make sure we weren’t inadvertently preventing our marketing campaigns from appearing on news content, and we continue to review our settings in the face of important news cycles. For example, while we’ve never excluded “Black Lives Matter,” we recently reassessed our settings to make sure our ads are set up to run alongside reporting on the racial justice movement. We encourage other marketers to do the same.

3. Support Black- and Latino-owned publishers

In June, we announced a set of commitments to improve racial equity inside and outside of Google. As a marketing team, one of many questions we asked ourselves was, how can we put more of our campaign dollars towards Black- and Latino-owned publishers in a meaningful way? 


So as part of our ongoing conversations with Black- and Latino-owned newspapers, we’ve been working to identify a more systematic way to spend our marketing dollars with them. These conversations raised a common challenge that many of these publishers face: their businesses are not set up to take advantage of digital advertising at scale. 


We’re taking three immediate steps to help address this. First, we’re working with the National Newspaper Publishers Association, representing Black-owned newspapers, and the National Association of Hispanic Publications to spend more with their member publications in the U.S. Second, we’re creating a Google News Initiative program with these same organizations and others to help Black- and Latino-owned publishers advance their digital maturity and build digital advertising capabilities, so they can attract more advertisers and grow revenue. Finally, Display & Video 360 is highlighting publications owned by multicultural groups within the product to help marketers who similarly want to spend more with these businesses.

4. Elevate local news

From stay-at-home orders to natural disasters, every day people turn to local news to stay informed and safe. In partnership with the Local Media Association and Local Media Consortium, we launched a marketing campaign in June to “Support Local News.” This program delivered funding to thousands of local news outlets in the U.S. and Canada, including Black- and Latino-owned publishers, and reached tens of millions of people with our call to action to subscribe, donate and advertise. 

Better support for news publishers will remain a priority across all of our marketing campaigns for Google's products. While there is more work to be done, we hope these steps inspire marketers to think differently about their campaigns and support news organizations in similar ways.