Google Is Testing A Hyper-Local News Product That Could Kill AOL's Patch

Google campus office top secret ZurichGoogle’s Zurich, Switzerland office.

While AOL’s local news website neywork Patch struggles to keep its team intact, Google thinks it can do local news right.

Google is internally testing a geographically based local news product to add to its Google Now service, Quartz’s Christopher Mims reports.

By taking advantage of Google Now’s wealth of user information, a local news product from Google would have the potential to present users with relevant news tied to their specific location.

Google’s vice president of search and assist, Johanna Wright, tells Quartz that the service will be “hyper-local.”

That sounds like an automated, algorithm-based version of what Patch is doing right now. Patch and other local news providers have struggled to turn local news into a profitable business. Patch is expensive to run but has gathered only a small audience.

Currently testing the service herself, Wright says that she has been able to see when the local Chipotle is giving out free burritos, when her son’s school has a special guest, and even when a local crimes happens.

If testing goes well, local news would likely be added to Google Now’s collection of individual subsections, called “cards.” So in addition to your Weather, Traffic, and Appointment cards in Google Now, you would also have one titled Local News.

Getting people to use such a local news feature will be bolstered by the inclusion of Google Now in all modern Android phones, and further availability through the search engine’s “Google Search App” for iOS.

Through direct integration with an already established product such as Google Now, the search giant might just be able to crack the local news conundrum.

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