The News is Google News

In what has to be considered almost a master stroke of timing, Google, on Friday, announced an almost seismic shift in the way it will deal in news content.

Moving forward, Google will now directly host content from four major news sources: the Press Association of Britain, Canadian Press, the Associated Press, and Agence France-Presse.

The AP is probably the biggest of these, but I find the Agence France-Presse the most interesting. In the not so very distant past, this very news organization brought suit against Google for using its content and pictures without permission. I suppose it’s a convenient way to make nice.

The timing that I’d alluded to earlier is really just a bit of a shot at Google. As John Batelle pointed out, they made the announcement heading into what is typically a very slow news week. Nothing like making a marked shift in your business when no one is around to hear the tree fall in the woods.

It’s obvious that by taking some ownership of this content, Google is able to increase the ad inventory available to them, but this seems pretty far from the core of search. To this point, Google has left ads off of Google News. The site essentially collects and re-distributes news from a variety of sources. When a user sees a topic of interest, they click off the Google domain and arrive at the provider’s site.

With this new deal, Google can present the content and images of the story, on their own domain, and show only their own advertising. They win on several fronts this way. They keep traffic on the Google domain, they get access to breaking, international news, and they can show AdWords ads on this new content without splitting any of the revenue.

While it’s new to Google, how many times have we watched giants like this, try to extend beyond their core, only to stub toes along the way? (paging Yahoo!).