WordPress, Google team on new CMS and monetization for local news publishers
The platform will offer "out-of-the-box integrations" with various ad and subscription systems, including Google's.
This morning, WordPress parent Automattic and Google announced Newspack. The new content management system (CMS) is “an advanced open-source publishing and revenue-generating platform for news organizations.” It’s targeted specifically to smaller, local news publishers that have struggled with traffic and revenue and don’t have lots of technology resources.
Consortium of industry supporters. Google says that the primary objective of Newspack is to “help small publishers succeed by building best practices into the product while removing distractions that may divert scarce resources.” In addition to Google and Automattic, project funders include Lenfest, ConsenSys and the Knight Foundation.
Automattic is inviting publishers to apply to be initial testers of the platform and provide feedback. The company offers a form at the end of its blog post and says applications are due by February 1. There will be no charge for use of the platform through January 2020. Thereafter it will cost between $1,000 and $2,000 per month.
Automattic also says that in the initial rollout phase “sites that are principally designed for audio or video news reporting will not be supported.”
Seeking a sustainable business model. Another challenge the program is seeking to address is the optimal business model for local news (some combination of ads and subscriptions). Google says Spirited Media and News Revenue Hub will be working to try and help solve the business model challenge. Collectively they’ll be trying to “better understand the features and capabilities that contribute to publisher success and to measure the business impact of those features.” Google says it’s also going to provide technical support on the integration of Google products (read: ads).
Automattic President Kinsey Wilson said, “We plan to provide out-of-the-box integrations with ad systems and various subscription and membership systems, including News Revenue Hub. The first phase of the effort will be to canvass the industry and understand what tools should be built in from the start.”
Latest Google effort to support local news. Newspack is the latest in a series of initiatives that Google has spearheaded to help newspapers and journalism. Roughly a year ago, Google announced the Google News Initiative, a set of efforts intended to:
- Elevate and strengthen quality journalism.
- Evolve business models to drive sustainable growth.
- Empower news organizations through technological innovation.
Why you should care. Local newspapers were one of the original local marketing channels. They’ve been eclipsed by big tech platforms over the past couple of decades, as they struggled to keep up with changing consumer behaviors. After being criticized for years as a destroyer of traditional news media, Google began pouring money and resources into supporting the industry.
Google’s efforts might be called “enlightened self-interest” on two levels. The first is that Google search results benefit from better and more news content, including local news. The second is that Google becomes a main supplier of ads to these local publishers, which also represent a very brand-safe environment for ads compared with many others.
Headless and hybrid content management systems: A snapshot
What they are. Headless and hybrid content management systems are software that serves as a repository for textual and other digital content that includes an application programming interface (API) that allows that stored content to be distributed to a variety of platforms. “Hybrid” systems have some of the characteristics of headless systems and some of those of “traditional” content management systems.
Why they’re hot. Most enterprise content management systems are built to deliver content to a desktop web browser, with WordPress being the most popular. However, much has changed since the platform’s start in 2003. People interact with content not just on desktops and laptops, but on their mobile phones, cars, TVs, and other connected devices.
Each device people use requires their unique interface and type of content to deliver the best experience. Brands may want to share content in different “wrappers,” which could include webpages, mobile apps, email, smart speaker apps, or VR apps.
How it works. A headless CMS disconnects the underlying content from the manner of display, making it easier to leverage the same assets across many platforms and devices. Repurposing and reusing content in this manner improves marketers’ ROI and reduces spend on creative efforts. These systems also speed up content delivery, helping brands better meet customer expectations.
Why we care. Enterprises need to deliver the same content in different languages with certain cultural tweaks in each market. This, coupled with the need to present their content on many channels and platforms, has shown many web developers the limitations of PHP formats. This is why so many adopt more modern CMS technologies to improve user experience.
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