Google plans to pay publishers an initial $1bn in licensing fees over the next three years to create and curate high-quality content for what the tech giant describes as a “different kind of online news experience”.

Called Google News Showcase, the new tool builds on the company’s existing licensing program, which pays selected publishers to include their stories in Google News and Search.

And according to Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and parent company Alphabet, it will give readers more insight on “the stories that matter” and help publishers “develop deeper relationships with their audiences”.

He unveiled details in a company blogpost, explaining that News Showcase involves “story panels” that will appear initially in Google News on Android, although the product will launch soon on iOS and will be rolled out to Google Discover and Search in the future.

These panels aim to help publishers to package stories with greater context than is currently possible and will include features like timelines, bullets and related articles, with video, audio and daily briefings likely to follow in due course.

“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,” Pichai wrote.

Google News Showcase launched at the end of last week in Brazil and Germany, but the company says it will expand to other countries in the coming months where local frameworks support these partnerships.

So far – and in addition to Brazil and Germany – Google has signed deals with more than 200 publishers around the world, including Argentina, Australia, Canada and the UK.

Brad Bender, Google's VP of product management for news, told Axios that Google is selecting publishers on a country by county basis, prioritising those that have established audiences and serve a community. “We need to have enough of a critical mass of publisher content to be able to launch in a country,” he said.

“We hope this partnership could be an important push to expand the magazine’s digital presence,” added José Roberto de Toledo, executive-editor at piauí magazine in Brazil.

“On one hand, we are using the revenue from the project to increase our production (more articles per day); on the other, the showcase gives us a tool to display what we think is more relevant, to make connections between different stories and, luckily, attract more readers. It feels like we are getting back some power from the algorithm to the journalism.”

Sourced from Google, Axios