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Projects from 26 European countries were awarded more than €20m as part of the fourth round of Google’s Digital News Initiative, Ludovic Blecher, head of the DNI Innovation Fund, announced today (13 December).

This is the first round of funding to have a theme, with large projects (applying for more than €300,000) required to be centred around monetisation. Twenty-two such projects were funded, as well as 33 medium-sized projects (€50,000-€300,000) and 47 prototypes (up to €50,000).

Large projects that were awarded funding today include: Go Digital, a new publishing platform being developed by Impresa in Portugal to provide local and regional outlets with a solution for monetising their digital content; Soldr, a service from Sweden’s Mittmedia that will use available data about user interaction and content and apply machine learning to support the creation of individually personalised content products; and Le Parisien’s Smarter Paywall, which aims to increase the discovery and consumption of local news and create different metering models for various types of readers.

France received the largest amount of funding, with €4.1m divided between 14 projects across the three categories, followed by the United Kingdom (€3.1m), Italy (€1.8m), Spain (€1.5m) and Germany (€1.2m).

In the UK, organisations that secured support in the fourth round of the Innovation Fund include Reuters, Archant, The Detail, Johnston Press, The Financial Times, and The Times and The Sunday Times.

The organisations will develop projects that focus on producing and monetising personalised video programmes, individual content distribution experiences, and providing audiences with a live score and recommendations for how much knowledge they have based on what they’ve read, among other strategies.

Of the organisations that tackled monetisation, many chose to focus on subscription models, explained Blecher, speaking at a DNI Fund event in London earlier today.

The applications indicated “not just transformative approach, but a real pivot from an industry that is trying to go into a new age”, he said, adding that these projects point to “a new era of paywalls”.

The projects focus not only on adding payment options or simplifying, but also on ensuring media organisations are targeting the right people at the right time to improve the conversion rate.

Personalisation, content delivery and marketing were some of the key areas in which the successful applicants plan to experiment.

Around €10.3 million were awarded to UK-based news organisations in the four rounds of the Digital News Initiative. As well as funding media innovation, the value Google hopes to bring to the media ecosystem extends to sharing knowledge uncovered during the development process of the projects, Blecher explained.

A new round of funding from the Digital News Initiative will open in 2018. The full list of projects supported in the latest round of the Innovation Fund is available on the Digital News Initiative website.

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