Google News Initiative Ad Transformation Lab Provides Needed Support for Black, Latino Media

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Google has announced a partnership for its Google News Initiative (GNI) Ad Transformation Lab, a program designed to help advance the digital transformation and advertising aspects of Black and Latino-owned news providers in the United States and Canada.

The tech giant rolled out the plan on Thursday, Nov 19, with a blog post by National Newspaper Publishers Association President (NNPA) and CEO, Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.

In addition to the more than 230-member NNPA, the National Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP), and the Association of Alternative News Media also are included in the initiative.

“The NNPA is pleased to join with NAHP and the Association of Alternative News Media as national trade associations dedicated to enhancing the sustainability of our member publishers, respectively,” Chavis remarked.

“The Google News Initiative Ad Transformation Lab is a timely opportunity for us to acquire best practices that will increase financial profitability in the expanding digital media space.”

To support the GNI program, Google has sponsored a new position for the NNPA.

The association will hire a Digital Specialist, who will collaborate between the Press Association Partners and GNI, as well as advancing the digital capabilities of NNPA’s members and the NNPA Digital Network.

In a job posting on November 18, 2020, the NNPA noted that it’s looking for a candidate with a strong knowledge of digital tools and a track record of working in a decision-making business role at a digitally forward news organization.

“In partnering with the NAHP, whose members span the country, with a concentration in areas of large Latino populations, we’ve seen a need to bring this type of support to our communities,” NAHP President Fanny Miller commented.

“And they say it’s crucial to provide professional development that focuses on adopting new advertising technology. Increased digital revenue will help expand audiences, build capacity and further the recognition and usage of Latino publications.”

Nathalie Sajous, Google’s Director of News and Publishing, Global Partnerships, said its relationship with the media associations dates back a while.

“There was a common challenge that many Black and Latinx publishers were facing,” Sajous added.

“The businesses were not set up to take advantage of digital advertising at scale. We wanted to make sure we drive systemic change.”

She continued:

“It came through conversations and the recognition of patterns. There was a specific need we wanted to address. The Google News Initiative has many programs – specific needs we wanted to address with this audience, with respect to advertising. That’s the focus.”

Sajous noted that Google has numerous programs to support the digital space.

Those programs include:

  • GNI Innovation Challenge: A global fund to kickstart innovation in news organizations on locally relevant issues. In North America, we announced funding for projects focused on diversity, equity and inclusion in journalism.
  • Support Local News campaign: In partnership with Local Media Association and Local Media Consortium, we launched a marketing campaign in June to “Support Local News.” This program delivered funding to thousands of local news outlets in the U.S. and Canada, including Black- and Latino-owned publishers, and reached tens of millions of people with our call to action to subscribe, donate and advertise.
  • Google Marketing: Google’s CMO recently shared four ways we’re supporting news publishers with our own marketing campaigns, including a $100M global marketing commitment to spend with the news category, including Black- and Latino- owned publishers.

In the Google News Initiative Labs, news organizations’ cohorts come together over several months to tackle specific business problems, with support from Google and industry experts.

Participants from each news organization receive customized consulting, learn from peers who face similar business problems, and implement specific steps to advance their goals.

Additional partners of the GNI Ad Transformation Lab include digital consultant 10up and the Local Media Association, which will serve as an advisory to the program.

Along with Google, these industry organizations will bring the publishers expertise in acquiring digital advertising training and upgrading technology platforms to accelerate effective, efficient, and engaging digital advertising and programmatic strategies.

“The way users are consuming news today is online,” Sajous remarked. “They come to Google, and they are expecting to find information that they can trust. Quality journalism matters, and it’s essential to people around the world. The goal of the Google News Initiative is to make sure that all have a voice. Our goal is to ensure that there is sustainability in Black and Latinx newspapers.”

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