Google looking at DIY Magazine Publishing


Saturday, 10 November 2007

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s Google Personalized Publishing!

Have you ever purchased a magazine only to be frustrated that it only had a few articles of interest? Did you ever think you could make a better one? Well, fear not my faithful minions; Google is going to give you that chance. That’s right, your very own publication. You can choose the topics, choose all the content and even Google Personalized Publishingpick which advertisements (or none at all) that are in your on-demand point-of-sale printed ‘personalized publication’. That’s right my fine peeps… now you can be the editor in chief.

In case you didn’t notice, I tend to cover SEO and Internet Marketing around here, not publishing and related advertising. There was a patent that came out from the good ship Google yesterday that I simply couldn’t pass up. It is a system that allows you to create your own magazine or eZine, depending on your preference; and if I do say so myself, that is pretty freaking interesting.


The Details; Customization of Content and Advertisements in Publications

The system revolves around document processing, and, more interestingly, thecustomization/personalization of content and advertisements in various publication formats; e.g., print form (e.g., newspapers, magazines, books, etc.), electronic form (e.g., electronic newspapers, electronic books (“e-Books”), electronic magazines.


Google seems to be, as always, looking for ways to tighten up relevancy. This time it is for print/electronic media publications. The goal is to deliver the end user more relevant and theoretically, more engaging content and advertising. The concept seems to be an attempt to maximize the targeting of not only content, but the advertising that comes with it. The assertion is that publishers, in less relevant products, routinely ‘miss out on subscription and advertisement revenue’ due to a lack of focused (targeted) content for the end user. Added to that, there is no real way for advertisers to focus a tighter behavioural subset in many publishing situations; Google is going to fix that for you.

You will have the ability to create your own ‘customize publication’ that contains the content (and advertising) that you have chosen. There is the ability to search content to add to your ‘personalized’ publication as well as suggestions generated through user history. The system can track a given topic a user is monitoring and update/suggest new related content as it becomes available. Content could also be searched by price, topic and dates for example, or any other information ‘deemed to be useful to either a user and/or a content provider in locating content to be provided in a customized publication. You could also set updates on a given frequency (weekly, monthly) and set which content items you wish to have updated for that given period.


Getting it together

They would take personalized advertisements and content based upon user selections (and user profiles from past actions) into the system which can then be combined into a singular output in a customized publication. It would be your own personal magazine in essence. The concept works as such;


  • Receiving user input regarding subject matter of interest.
  • Searching the plurality of content sources based on a personalized content search query;
  • Recommending content based on results of the personalized content search query;
  • And receiving user input selecting the personalized content from the recommended content.
  • Storing the personalized content search query.


From that point the system stores the personalized content and begins the ad targeting process by;

  • Searching advertisements based on a personalized advertisement search query
  • Recommending advertisements based on results of the personalized advertisement search query
  • And receiving user input selecting the personalized advertisement from the recommended advertisements
  • Storing the personalized advertisement search query.


Then the content and advertisements can be combined into a custom publication. These publications can be created either in printed or digital formats, which is certainly an interesting undertaking from Google, to say the least. Getting all of your favourite content in one place can be difficult in most news aggregation scenarios. As an example they discuss the digital media consumer that has to use multiple searches and multiple news sources (web sites/news aggregators) to find what they are looking for.

Unfortunately, such services fail to enable a consumer to create a customized publication containing personalized content from a variety of sources (e.g., electronic newspapers, electronic books, electronic magazines, online encyclopedias, web sites, blogs, blog posts, etc.), and containing personalized advertisements.”

So how would you like to build your own personal newspaper? We even get to pick our own Ads?? Sounds like fun to me.

The personalized ads are automatically generated based the end user selections, past habits, Geographic location, content selection and more. The ads are presented to the end user for selection/approval and can be removed in subsequent publication if desired. They also delve into a few of the proposed advertiser models and placement as far how different levels of advertisers are treated to maintain fairness and relevancy.


Look Ma! I'm a Publishing mogul!


Pricing Models and Advertising Cost Reductions
The pricing model is based on the content chosen and final cost would be dependant on the number of advertisements you have in the publication. The less ads you have, the more the end cost of the publication would be. Should you want to have your publication Ad-free, then you would be paying top dollar for it since it contains no ‘advertisement reductions’ in the final pricing structure.

When you receive the list of advertiser results from the system, there would be associated ‘reduction’ costs with the listing showing how much you would ‘save’ by adding that particular advertisement into your customized publication. You can then choose the advertisers that not only suit your interests, but reduce the over-all cost of the publication. This in turn can be tied into the pricing structures for advertisers – the more you pay, the higher the end user ‘cost reduction’.

For example, an advertiser may pay a premium for an advertisement, and the advertisement may reduce a customized publication cost greater than other advertisements. This, in turn, may entice users to select the advertisement over other less cost reducing advertisements, and may ensure an advertiser that the advertisement gets selected by a user.”


The delivery system

Now this is the fun stuff; they discuss methods for consumer interaction including a web based interface and Kiosks. These Kiosks would be web enabled and potentially located in stores such as Target supermarkets, retail stores and so on. The consumer would (presumably) have an account, via online registration, and login to the Kiosk to create their personalized publication (or via Home PC). You could search for content across multiple queries such as; publication names, author, geographic filters or topically.

The proposed interface would have items such as ‘Customer Info’, ‘Find Publications’ ( to find desired content) ‘Choose Ads’ to create the desired Ads. Though not defined, the registration process could include “psychographic, and/or other user information that may be deemed useful to content providers and/or advertisers”. Never let an opportunity to gather data go to waste, right?

I would imagine that over time, as the system gets to know you, you could wander up to a kiosk, select some content of interest to you from searches or suggestions. Then the system would have an option for choosing ads, or have it automated based upon past choices. Print out your personalized publication and away you go (or delivered electronically). You could select items from home or the office and then merely log into a Kiosk and print it out. Either way, some VERY interesting ideas here.

That’s where the delivery gets a little sticky. There is no real mention of an immediate on the spot publication of a hard copy version unless it was set up a location that already had such capabilities (Staples for example). Other delivery methods include;

  • Print enabled Store (Staples, Target, Safeway)
  • Printed and Mailed (hard copy)
  • Electronic version download (portable drive)
  • Emailed to user


Think of how you can send pictures via the internet to your local Photo hub and then going it to pick them up. This is one potential implementation for the system. Only this one is for content instead of photos. One could even envision being able to utilize public libraries, universities and so forth. It also discusses sending an electronic version to you even if you have requested the print version (hard copy).

They also discuss the interface and processes for Content Providers and Advertisers; I am going to leave that for later. I am more interested in telling you about the over-all concepts here, not the details. We can do that part next time as I may do separate posts on the models for each area (content selection, content providers and advertisers). It goes into some details on these processes as well.


This pony has legs!

I have to say, after going over this patent and chatting it up with a few folks, this is a very interesting offering from the Plex. The concept is novel and I can see content providers and advertisers lining up around the block already. This one would come down to the consumer. Is there a place in the market for this? Would the novelty wear off? Given the recent proliferation of Google in the world(s) of Computers and Cell Phones, there are more than a few ways to deliver the product and access the world’s information junkies. I can see people that commute a lot getting into this… and really, who hasn’t wanted to publish their own magazine? I am going to go out and get some cigars and work on J. Jonah Jameson impressions….


I will most certainly come back to this patent and let you know more about some of the finer details. Be sure to Stay Tuned!




Bill Slawski also put his thoughts down in; Google Magazine – About whatever you want

Google is not actually new to the print world as Google Adwords has options for ‘Print Ads’ 


Content, is described as being; “broadly interpreted to include any machine-readable and machine-storable work product, document, electronic media, print media, etc. Content may include, for example, information contained in documents, print media (e.g., newspapers, magazines, books, encyclopedias, etc.), electronic newspapers, electronic books, electronic magazines, online encyclopedias, electronic media (e.g., image files, audio files, video files, web casts, podcasts, etc.), etc.

document is; “an e-mail, a web site, a file, a combination of files, one or more files with embedded links to other files, a news group posting, a blog, a blog post, a web advertisement, any of the aforementioned content, advertisements, etc.”


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