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Google, Twitter teaming up to create new publishing tool

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September 16
1:35 AM 2015

Google is reportedly teaming up with Twitter to provide users with instant access to articles, reviving speculations the search giant may be acquiring the micro-blogging site.

Re/Code reports the two tech giants are now working on a publishing tool that will enable users to view articles instantly on their mobile phones. That's a departure from the current set-up where users have to wait several seconds for a story to load.

Initially dubbed as "accelerated mobile pages,'' the publishing tool is Google and Twitter's answer to Facebook's Instant Articles, Apple's News app, or Snapchat's Discover. "The world needs an answer to proprietary instant articles, and Twitter and Google could provide it," an informed source told Re/Code.

Unlike other publishing tools, the Google/Twitter project will neither come out as a branded product nor will it host publishers' content. What it does is show users cached Web pages from publishers' sites. That means original ads sold by publishers will stay, as a Web page will appear as is. In the system adopted by Facebook, Apple, or Snapchat, articles take on a whole new appearance; publishers have no control over the design of their content.

Since original ads will appear on cached pages, in the platform of Google/Twitter, their value will be retained. There is a possibility the price of ads on partners' sites would increase, making the platform more attractive to publishers. In the case of Facebook and Apple platforms, publishers get to keep all of the revenues from ads sold on hosted articles. Majority of revenues from ads sold on the news platforms also go to them. But the downside to this is, publishers might become beholden to the desires of third parties.

As the mobile ad war heightens, Twitter and, especially, Google need to increase engagement, in light of reports Facebook is now lording it over news traffic.

Traffic analytics firm Parse.ly has reported that from May to July, social media sources, of which Facebook is the biggest, accounted for 43% of the traffic to its network of media sites. That's bigger compared to Google's 38%, and more than twice as much as Facebook's record in January last year.

Google/Twitter's plan will be an open source project, which means LinkedIn, Reddit, and other tech firms could adopt the platform for free.

Google and Twitter are still in talks with a small group of publishers to hammer out the details of the new business, which is expected to launch this fall.

A few months ago, Google CEO Larry Page shot down talks the company might acquire Twitter. But with the recent breakup of Google into Alphabet, now under Sundar Pichai, a deal might still be possible.

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