Google is developing technology to let publishers create visual-oriented media content along the lines of Snapchat's "Discover," according to people familiar with the situation, upping the ante in a race among tech giants to dominate news dissemination on smartphones.
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Alphabet Inc.'s Google has been in discussions with several publishers, including Vox Media, CNN, Mic, the Washington Post and Time Inc., to participate in the project, which is dubbed "Stamp," the people say. It could be announced as early as next week, one of the people said.
Google is building the service around its "AMP" mobile webpages, which are designed to load faster than regular webpages. The "St" in Stamp stands for "stories."
Participating publishers would run stories that could be several swipeable slides encompassing text, photos and video, just as on Snap Inc.'s Snapchat, the people familiar with the situation say.
"Ever since the beginning of AMP we've constantly collaborated with publishers, and are working on many new features," said a Google spokeswoman, who provided no further details.
Google is stepping up its efforts in a busy area of the digital media landscape. In addition to Snapchat, Facebook Inc. has its Instant Articles platform, which carries content from a variety of big-name publishers, while Apple Inc. has the Apple News app.
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Publishers are trying to figure out how best to allocate their resources as the means to deliver news and information constantly evolve. Producing and formatting content for different digital platforms can be costly, they say, but optimizing for Google is a priority because of the company's ability to widely distribute content.
One of the main attractions of Google's service is that it would be tied into the company's search product, giving publishers a big built-in audience for Stamp stories. The Stamp versions of stories could be surfaced in Google search results, or within other Google products, people familiar with the program said, as AMP pages are currently.
Also, the stories could be surfaced on publishers' own sites, a model that is different from Snapchat, where stories are hosted by Snapchat itself and are only available via the app.
Details of the financial arrangements between Google and publishers, including how they would split any ad revenue, weren't clear.
The type of advertising that might be featured in Stamp articles is still being figured out, people familiar with the program said.
The introduction of Stamp articles may be another pressure point for Snap, which has faced questions about its ability to continue to stand out in a crowded social-media market. Google is only the latest technology behemoth to adopt features similar to Snap's. Facebook and its Instagram platform have been imitating many of the younger company's features over the past year.
While Facebook and Snap are pushing publishers to post content directly to their apps, Google is instead developing tools designed to encourage publishers to invest in their mobile web properties. The move is consistent with Google's focus on the open web, from which the company currently generates the majority of its ad revenues.
Apps such as Snapchat currently offer the ability to create more dynamic experiences than Google's AMP feature has to date, publishers say. But they are hopeful Stamp could offer a way to bring more "app-like" content to their mobile web audiences without creating slow, cumbersome pages in the process.
Write to Amol Sharma at email@example.com and Jack Marshall at Jack.Marshall@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 04, 2017 17:32 ET (21:32 GMT)