Google has announced the winners of its Asia Pacific Innovation Challenge, aimed at strengthening digital innovation and new business models in news organizations across the region.
Part of the Google News Initiative, the challenge received 215 applications from 18 countries from news startups in Indonesia, web publishers in Mongolia and Nepal, to video and audio broadcasters in Australia.
After rounds of interviews and a jury selection process, Google chose 23 projects in 14 countries to provide support with a total of $3.2 million. According to the tech giant, these projects were chosen based on their impact, feasibility, innovation and inspiration.
Google said it also found several themes emerging from the applications like building or renovating membership models, leveraging machine learning and AI to surface more engaging content, and gamification to create community-wide sharing
For example, Singapore Press Holdings’ work with its Mandarin language publication Lianhe Zaobao to build a membership model for its website, Zaobao.sg.
This model allows non-subscriber guest readers to gain access to premium content by performing gamified and non-monetary based actions to accrue points for premium content access or even gifts.
Google said this model was chosen because it helps build reader loyalty and engagement with Zaobao.sg, and convert guests into known and loyal readers who may become subscribers.
Japan’s Asahi Shimbun was chosen for its focus on tipping and donations as new means of reader revenue. Readers who sympathize with the story will be able to tip or donate to the interviewed community or the journalist directly.
In addition, blockchain technology and cryptocurrency will enable the paper to lower the cost of each transaction.
In spite of its support for publishers, Google is currently the subject of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) digital platforms inquiry to analyze issues about the digital advertising supply chain that could affect Australian advertisers, including how advertising is verified on platforms like Facebook and Google.