Google to digitize newspaper archives, attach advertising

In effort to offer users more relevant content, and to make money through online ads, Google announced this week that it will start digitizing newspaper archives and make them available as part of its Google News search platform.

Google, which offers a similar service to users by digitizing books, came under fire by book publishers who said the concept violated copyright laws. This time, Google said it will only digitize the archives of participating newspapers.

Those newspaper publishers will get a share of the online advertising revenue generated by the archive searches on Google but it’s still unclear how excited publishers will be to get in on the action.

Google has become the biggest competitor of newspapers in recent years and, as more readers and advertisers move to the Internet, it’s Google that has generated most of the ad revenue, not newspapers. In fact, some reports say Google is poised to take over as much as 80 percent of all online advertising revenue.

Newspapers currently charge users for access to their archives and most likely won’t want to give up content to their largest online competitor without some hesitation. Then again, most accounts show newspaper revenue generated by users searching online archives is minimal.

After all, people don’t want to pay for news online. It’s not the way the Internet works.

As newspapers work to become more relevant online working with Google, instead of against it, they could breathe new life into the publishing industry as a whole. It could also serve as just another nail in the coffin.