June 29, 2012, 3:29 PM

Google’s e-commerce plays

The search engine moves further into e-commerce.

Lead Photo

Two moves this week further extend Google Inc.’s reach from search advertising to the wider world of e-commerce.

First, magazine publisher Meredith Corp. said that it would sell digital editions of such titles as Family Circle, EveryDay with Rachael Ray, Ladies’ Home Journal  and Midwest Living via Google Play. Launched in March, Google Play combines services that operated under the Google Music, Google eBookstore and Android Market labels.

Consumers on Google Play not only can buy digital editions of magazines, but also music, movies, books and apps. The content is stored in Google’s web servers, accessible via desktop computers, smartphones, tablets and other devices. When it comes to music, for instance, consumers can store up to 20,000 songs for free and buy new songs from a selection of millions.

Single issues of Meredith titles initially will cost 99 cents, the publisher says. The publisher didn’t say how long the promotion would last. A check of various titles on Google Play today—not just ones from Meredith—showed many magazines selling for about $5 each. 

“We are excited to be adding such a variety of our key brands from our best-in-class portfolio to the Google Play store and experience," says Liz Schimel, executive vice president and chief digital officer for Meredith. "We know from our research that our large scale audiences of female readers are looking for this content across a broad spectrum of digital offerings. These tablet and mobile editions deepen and expand consumers' experiences with brands they love and trust, and reflect our long-term strategy to meeting our readers' multi-channel expectations and desires."

Also this week, Google-owned YouTube said that consumers can now buy movies and TV shows instead of merely renting them.

“You can buy movies and TV content like ‘Revenge,’ ‘Parks & Recreation,’ ‘Breaking Bad’ and [from] top movie studios like ABC Studios, NBCUniversal and Sony Pictures,” YouTube says in its announcement. “Purchased movies and shows can be played back as many times as you like on YouTube, and on your Android device via Google Play. We’ll soon be bringing the experience to Google TV devices, too.”

The YouTube move represents the latest development in tapping into the earning potential of a video service that still retains much of its grass-roots, everything-should-be-free mood. About a year ago, YouTube started to let consumers rent content, following a trial of rentals of films featured at the annual Sundance festival.  And in April, Google introduced paid search ads to YouTube.

These recent announcements come as Google rolls out its Google Shopping program, which will phase out the free clicks that retailers enjoyed on Google Product Search listings.

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