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Google is testing a local news product for Google Now - Quartz

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“One thing we’re testing right now is a very local hyper-local news card,” says Wright. “Which is really useful—it teaches me things about my neighborhood. For example, I found out Miss Mexico came to my son’s school, I saw that [the local] Chipotle was giving out burritos, and someone was stabbed in the park near my house. It’s very, very targeted to you and your interests.”

Wright said that Google’s new local news product is only live in an “experimental version.” Typically, she adds, “We do A/B tests [of versions of Google web services], trying to get feedback from people in the market.”

It’s not clear whether or not Google will roll out a local news card for Google Now to the wider public, but if preliminary testing continues to go well, it seems likely. Presently, local news is not listed as one of the types of cards available on Google Now.

Profiting from local news is the one nut that no web or media company has been able to crack—not NBC with its doomed EveryBlock, the Guardian with its failed Guardian Local, nor even deep-pocketed AOL, with its “limping” Patch. This has led some to observe that local news may simply never be a profit center for any company. Which is why Google is perhaps the perfect company to own this space, since Google is just an aggregator anyway—and now we know that Google has designs on enhancing the visibility of its existing (but little-known) local news product.

It does make sense for Google to own this.

Putting local news in context could make it relevant in a way that simply dumping it on a site that people have to remember to go to might never. It transforms local news into a push medium, since Google Now is constantly deciding which cards to preemptively display to people, in a process known internally on the Google Now team as “triggering.”

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