Google Fast Flip is just the ammunition newspapers wanted

Google today launched Google Fast Flip, a new reading services that allows users to (as the name suggests) flip through content on various sites without leaving Google itself.

The new service includes content from the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Washington Post, Salon, Fast Company, ProPublica, among others, and is being pitched by Google as “a new reading experience that combines the best elements of print and online articles.”

To Google’s credit Fast Flip only includes content from partnership deals with media outlets, and the search giant is promising to “share the revenue earned from contextually relevant ads.” The problem though lies with what Google Fast Flip does with the content, and what it may mean in the fight between Google and newspaper publishers.

Google Fast Flip displays an ad-less snap shot of each page, which while constrained by size mostly includes the full content from each item. It works to some degree for reading, but at the same time it negates the need to click thru to the outlet hosting the content. Without the clickthru, Google’s argument about how many page views it sends through to publishers is undermined. They are ad sharing, but a single Adsense unit won’t come close to competing with display advertising on the actual source page, and that’s a risk for sites who are offering their content on the service.

To actually affect the bottom line of sites, Fast Flip would need to become popular, but it’s the precedent it sets that will scare newspaper publishers, and rightly so as Google now offers a service that doesn’t deliver traffic back. You can already hear some Google haters preparing to cite the service the next time they go on a Google bash, only this time their arguments might actually make some sense.