Google Launches ‘Web Elements’ (And The Times Is All Over It)

webelements092809 Google Launches Web Elements (And The Times Is All Over It)Google is making it even easier for bloggers and Web writers to share online content on their sites—with a tip of the hat to original content providers, like The New York Times, too.

On May 27, the company launched their new Google Web Elements, which work a lot like widgets and allow users to embed the most popular Google products—Calendars, Maps, Google News, YouTube Video News, Presentations, Spreadsheets and Google Conversations—directly into their Web pages. They simply add a code and a window featuring Google News‘ top stories or the latest Associated Press videos are refreshed directly to their site. It’s as easy as copying and pasting the YouTube video code and getting brand new articles, videos and maps as they are updated. 

Google presented their new Web Elements feature in San Francisco at Google I/O, the company’s biggest event of the year for developers to showcase new projects and host breakout sessions and tutorials. The new feature is an example of the things Google geeks can do with their APIs.

But what does this mean for publishers? Perhaps more prominently branded content. For example, on the Web Elements page, users will note that The New York Times‘ content is featured in both the News and YouTube News examples. For the video feed, users can choose from one of 13 news sources, from Al-Jazeera to Fox News to the New York Post. The New York Times is the primary example on the first embed page in the drop-down menu. And when a user embeds the box onto their site, they can click through to several different videos in the box (one currently features a video about the Google Maps’ Street View car in New York). A border around the feature prominently displays the Times’ “T” symbol and a headline: “News Videos From the New York Times,” as well as a “Google Web Elements” nod along the bottom of the feature. This is much better branding for The Times’ video content than, say, a regular YouTube video embedded in a site that has no indication of its original source before the clip is played.

For now, there’s no advertising embedded in the Web Elements features, but who knows what tweaks Google will make in the future?

So perhaps Google is playing nice with newspapers after the reported talks they’ve had with The Washington Post, along with The Times, to improve “ways of creating and presenting news online,” according to The Post’s media columnist Howard Kurtz. In March, The Times‘ David Carr wrote that newspapers needed to rally against aggregators like Google. “Most aggregators are not promoting newspaper content; they are repurposing it to their own ends,” he wrote. “Newspapers’ audiences are harvested and sold divorced from the content that attracted them in the first place.” Are features like Web Elements’ News Videos a kind of Internet-based alimony, just enough to placate newspapers? Or, you know, maybe they’re just nifty little things for people’s Web pages.