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Google moves to micropayments

Will do for the media what iTunes did for music - take its revenue?

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Google is looking at adding a micropayments system to its Checkout payment system.

This emerged in a document sent to the Newspaper Association of America which sent requests to various companies to ask for suggestions as to how publishers could make more money from their online content.

Google said it would have micropayments in place within a year which would allow payments between a penny and several dollars. It promised integrating the service will be extremely simple for publishers and merchants.

The document makes clear that Google disagrees with Rupert Murdoch - it does not believe micropayments will be the real saviour of online journalism.

The document said: "While we believe that advertising will likely the remain the main source of revenue for most news content, a paid model can serve as an important source of additional revenue."

The search behemoth promises a "premium content ecosystem" will include the following:

* Single sign-on so users can access different media through one account

* Allowing publishers to bundle several titles into one subscription

* Allowing multiple payment options and the ability to easily include or exclude some content from paywalls

* Different tiers of access - so users could see snippets or first paras of content and "first look free" access

* Google also said it would offer "highly relevant ads for users, such as interest-based advertising"

The firm was vague on timing but it did say it would have easier merchant integration in place by early 2010 and guest checkout - paying for services without an account - in place by the fourth quarter of this year.

The Nieman Journalism Lab got hold of the document - you can see their take on it and the document on this page.

Google sent us the following:

The Newspaper Association of America asked Google to submit some ideas for how its members could use technology to generate more revenue from their digital content, and we shared some of those ideas in this proposal. It's consistent with Google's effort to help publishers reach bigger audiences, better engage their readers and make more money.

We have always said that publishers have full control over their content. If they decide to charge for it, we'll work with them to ensure that their content can be easily discovered if they want it to be.

As for Checkout, we don't have any specific new services to announce but we're always looking for ways to make payments online more efficient and user-friendly.

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