Overview

Google audio news is a unique, timely playlist generated on-demand for each individual user on the Google Assistant and other Google surfaces.

Availability and eligibility

Google audio news is still in developer preview. It's currently being tested for a limited set of English-speaking users in the United States. Publishers from around the world who produce English-language content are eligible to submit feeds for inclusion and sign up to try the experience.

Set up your news content

To include your news content on Google audio news, your feed must meet the following requirements:

If your news content follows all of these requirements, you can submit it for Google audio news.

Content guidelines

For your content to be eligible for inclusion in Google audio news, you must adhere to the following guidelines, which cover journalistic standards and product-specific requirements.

General guidelines

When you create your news story, consider the following guidelines:

  • Submitted stories must cover a single news story or topic. Avoid an overview of multiple news stories in a single audio file, which can't be included in this product experience.
  • Publish the stories to your feed as soon as they're available, since news demands fresh and timely stories. Do not republish or add old stories to your feed. Stories that are exact or near duplicates of each other aren't acceptable within a single feed, or across multiple feeds from the same publisher.
  • Avoid highly ephemeral content, such as traffic updates and weather predictions. This type of content can become irrelevant soon after it's published, so exclude these stories from the RSS feed.
  • If a story is in development, you can update it or remove an outdated story from your feed. You can find specific information about the expiration of outdated stories in Technical specifications.
  • Each story must be between 30 seconds and 10 minutes long, though they can be slightly shorter or longer. The playlist is designed to lead with shorter stories, each under two minutes long, which then transitions the audio experience to longer stories.

Best practices

We recommend that the stories in this news experience incorporate the following information and guidelines to provide quality experiences to the users.

Short and conversational headlines

When you create headlines, remember the following points:

  • Make sure to use verbs and articles such as "the," "a," and "an."
  • Avoid the inclusion of dates.
  • Keep the length of the headline to 35-40 characters.

Clear and separate intros

Each story must introduce the name of the publisher, either within the media file itself or as a separate <media:content> intro file in an mRSS feed, which is preferred.

For example, your publisher introduction might be "This is the Example Times." You can use this intro file for every item in a feed. Alternatively, you can tailor intro files to the individual story when you identify the name of the person who's about to speak.

Clear ledes

You need to capture what the story is about early in the production. Use a lede to get the audience hooked. If the story had a host lede in the initial broadcast, include audio or video of the lede in with the media file of the story.

Remember that the text of the host lede with the <description> field, or another text-based RSS field, isn't a supported solution.

Reliable structures

To create reliable structures, remember the following points:

  • Each story must be able to stand alone. Avoid references to any previous content.
  • Adhere to the coverage of a single topic. Avoid an overview of multiple stories.
  • Make clear handoffs between the voices involved. See the following examples:
    • The host introduces themself and the outlet.
    • The host delivers the lede.
    • The host introduces the reporter.
    • The reporter delivers the story with tape.
    • (Optional) Return to the host for the outro.

(Optional) Outros

Outros are similar to intros, as specified previously. You can optionally include information about where a listener can find more of your content as a separate <media:content> file in the mRSS feed.

For example, you can include an MP3 that says, "To listen to our podcast, ask your Assistant to play 'The Example Times' podcast." These outros are played after medium-format stories. They aren't played after short stories that last less than two minutes.

Creative elements

Be sure to make audio-first or audio-rich content that's meant to be listened to, instead of read. See the following points about creative elements:

  • We recommend to include more than one voice in a story.
  • When possible, use natural or ambient sound to enrich the story. For example, a report about wildfires might include the sound of a fire crackling.

Clear edits

When you edit the content, remember the following guidelines:

  • Begin the story with a half-second of silence, also known as a "breath-in." The silence prevents rough edits.
  • End the story with a half-second of silence. The silence transitions the listener out of the story.
  • Do not cut off words or include words and sounds from a previous story.

Images

When possible, include an image that measures at least 1,400x1,400 pixels on a per-story basis. This helps your content appear better on Assistant-enabled devices with screens, also known as smart displays.

What to avoid

We recommend that stories in this news experience avoid the following information to provide quality experiences to the users.

Time references without context

Stories might appear after their original air date, so it's good practice to not use words such as "breaking" or time references such as "today" or "this morning." Remember to avoid these types of words and phrases in the story content, headlines, and show names. More specific or contextual uses of time, such as "today, Wednesday" or "on June 25th," are recommended.

Promotional materials and stories with ads

Individual stories shouldn't be promotional or contain sponsored content and advertisements. Promotional material and advertisements are often embedded directly into the media files, so review your content thoroughly. If you want to tell listeners where to find more of your content, refer to the Outro description.

Unrelated music

Music must be related to the topic of story. Any music that's not related to the story, such as outro music, must be no longer than five seconds.

Assistant phrases in outros

Avoid the use of phrases like "Hey Google" or "Ok Google" in outros in the mRSS specification because these phrases can wake up nearby devices. Instead, we recommend you use phrases that include what to ask.

For example, use phrases such as "You can ask the Assistant to play our podcast 'The Example Times'."

Visual content for video used in audio

Avoid videos that have text on the screen without voiceover, only music for the audio, or both. They don't work on a screenless device. Similarly, user-generated videos, videos meant for social media distribution, or unedited videos, such as from a press conference, can be difficult to understand without the visual content. Be sure to not include these types of videos in the RSS feed.

Technical specifications

Reference the following information to check that your RSS feed meets the technical specifications for Google Audio News.

The tags you use are defined by the iTunes or Media RSS extensions. Make sure to include the appropriate xmlns namespace declarations in the <rss> tag at the top of your feed. For details, see the following example:

<rss version="2.0" xmlns:itunes="http://www.itunes.com/dtds/podcast-1.0.dtd"
xmlns:itunes="http://search.yahoo.com/mrss/">

News publication RSS tags (<channel> level)

<title>

Required.

The name of the news content.

<itunes:author>

Required.

The news publishing entity name.

This specification may be spoken aloud with text-to-speech to introduce the news content.

Examples:

"Next, from [The Example Times]."

"Now, a story from [The Example Times]."

<link>

Required.

The fully-qualified URL of the homepage of your news content.

<description>

Required.

The description of your news content.

<image>

Required.

An image associated with your news content.

This specification must contain <title> and <link> sub-element values that are the same as the <title> and <link> elements in the <channel> level, and a <url> sub-element that points to an image that measures at least 1400x1400 pixels. This specification also must not be blocked from Googlebot.

Example:

<image>
  <url>http://www.example.com/theexampletimes/logo.png</url>
  <title>The Example Times</title>
  <link http://www.example.com/theexampletimes>
</image>

<item>

Required.

An object that contains the details for a single-topic story, such as the title, description, media file, and duration.

For details on the required specifications, see Single-topic story RSS tags.

<itunes:block>

Not required.

To prevent the feed from public availability on products like iTunes or Google Podcasts, the value can be set to Yes (not case sensitive). Any other value has no effect. For more information, see Apple's RSS tags for Podcasts.

Single-topic story RSS tags (<item> level)

<title>

Required.

The name of the single-topic story.

<description>

Required.

The description of the single-topic story.

<enclosure> or <media:content> or <media:group>

Required.

The fully-qualified URL of the single-topic story audio or video file.

Google audio news supports MP3, MP4, and M4A formats with a recommended maximum size of 15 MB. For video used as audio, video files must use MP4 format, and must be less than 200 MB. For more information about supported media types, check out Supported Media for Google Cast, as this feature adheres to the same specifications.

Ensure that these media files are not protected by robots.txt, and are otherwise available to Googlebot.

The URL of the media file should have an average loudness of -16 LUFS (Loudness Units Full Scale) for stereo, or -19 LUFS if the content is mono. For more information, see Audio loudness.

Example of <enclosure> with required attributes length, type, and url:

<enclosure length="187000" type="audio/mpeg"
url="http://www.example.com/theexampletimes/pandas_loose.mp3"/>

Example of <media:content> with required attributes url and type:

<media:content url="http://www.example.com/theexampletimes/star_relief.mp3"
type="audio/mpeg" />

Example of <media:group> with required sub-element <media:content>, and attributes url and type:

<media:group>
   <media:content url="http://www.example.com/theexampletimes/star_relief.mp3"
   type="audio/mpeg" />
   <media:content url="http://www.example.com/theexampletimes/star_relief.mp4"
   type="video/mp4" />
</media:group>
<link>

Not required.

A related web page, such as a web permalink URL, of a text story on the same single-topic story.

<guid>

Required.

A permanently-assigned, case-sensitive Global Unique Identifier (GUID) for each single-topic story.

If your identifier isn’t a valid URL, set the attribute isPermaLink to false.

Examples:

<guid>http://www.example.com/theexampletimes/id/1234567891</guid>
<guid isPermaLink="false">abcde-1234567891</guid>
<pubDate>

Required.

The release date and time of the single-topic story.

This must be in RFC 822 date and time format.

<itunes:duration>

Required.

The length of time of the media file in hours, minutes, and seconds.

You can specify one of the following formats, where H=hours, M=minutes, and S=seconds, as followed:

  • HH:MM:SS
  • H:MM:SS
  • MM:SS
  • M:SS
  • SS

Examples:

<itunes:duration>1:10:00</itunes:duration>
<itunes:duration>10:00</itunes:duration>
<itunes:duration>1800</itunes:duration>
<itunes:image> or <media:thumbnail>

Not required.

The image for the single-topic story.

This is displayed alongside the news content on Google Assistant-enabled devices and should be at least 1400x1400 pixels. If no story-specific image is provided, Assistant defaults to the <image> element at the <channel> level.

<dcterms:valid>

Not required.

This tag sets a date and time for when single-topic stories expire from the feed.

It's used to expire stories that are no longer relevant to serve, such as breaking news events, previews of live events, and updates to news stories.

The story expiry date is formatted as follows: end=[the date and time that the episode expires in DCMI:Period format; scheme=W3C-DTF.

To remove a story, submit an expiry date that's in the past. This ensures that the story is no longer served to consumers of the feed.

Example:

<dcterms:valid>end=1970-01-01T00:00:00+00:00;
scheme=W3C-DTF</dcterms:valid>
<media:content url="..." expression="sample">

Not required.

Sample expressions to add intros and outros per single-topic story.

Intros: Sample expressions that allow for short, pre-recorded introductions. Intros, such as "This is Jane Doe reporting for [The Example Times]" or "From [The Example Times]," help transition between single-topic stories.

  • The intro <media:content> element must be less than 2-5 seconds and must not have background music.
  • The order in which the elements are listed determines the order that they play, so it list it before the news story itself.

Outros: Sample expressions that allow for short, pre-recorded promotions. They are appended to the end of the story in order to help educate the listener about further places to find your content, such as "For more from [The Example Times], ask your Google Assistant to play [The Examples Times] podcast."

  • This outro must be less than 10 seconds and must not have background music.
  • Outros can't be featured every time the related news story is played.
  • The order that the elements are listed determines the order that they play, so it must be listed after the news story itself.
<media:credit>

Not required.

The name of the reporter of the story.

This field can be written phonetically. The value of this element is only used audibly through TTS alongside the publishing entity name, <itunes:author>, to introduce your content.

Example: "Here's [Jane Doe] from [The Example Times]."

<media:category label="...">

Not required.

The field media:category specifies an attribute called label that's both human-readable and displayable in end user applications.

The label can be a literal category. For example, sports or entertainment. Or, it can be a short phrase of no more than five words that describes what the story is about. The text in this field is inserted into a TTS string that communicates something like, “Up next, a story about [label].”

This label should be a noun phrase. That is, it doesn't contain a verb and isn't a complete, standalone sentence. This specification maintains consistency among publisher-written labels and allows insertion of the label into TTS strings that already contain a verb.

Example

The following example follows RSS 2.0 and the technical specifications for Google News on the Assistant. For more information about what elements are required or not, see the technical specifications.

<rss xmlns:itunes="http://www.itunes.com/dtds/podcast-1.0.dtd"
     xmlns:media="http://search.yahoo.com/mrss/"
     version="2.0">
  <channel>
   <title>The Example Times</title>
   <link http://www.example.com/theexampletimes>
   <description>The latest news from The Example Times.</description>
   <itunes:author>The Example Times</itunes:author>
   <image>
     <url>http://www.example.com/theexampletimes/logo.png</url>
     <title>The Example Times</title>
     <link http://www.example.com/theexampletimes>
   </image>
   <item>
     <title>Pandas run loose</title>
     <description>Pandas escape from the San Francisco Zoo</description>
     <link http://www.example.com/theexampletimes/article/pandas-run-loose.html>
     <guid>http://www.example.com/theexampletimes/id/1234567891</guid>
     <enclosure length="187000" type="audio/mpeg" url="http://www.example.com/theexampletimes/pandas_loose.mp3"/>
     <media:content url="http://www.example.com/theexampletimes/jane_doe_intro.mp3" type="audio/mpeg" expression="sample" />
     <media:content url="http://www.example.com/theexampletimes/pandas_loose.mp3" type="audio/mpeg" />
     <media:thumbnail url="http://www.example.com/theexampletimes/pandas_loose.jpg"
       width="1000" height="1000" />
     <media:category label="a panda escape"/>
     <pubDate>Thu, 8 Jun 2018 09:10:00 GMT</pubDate>
     <itunes:duration>45</itunes:duration>
   </item>
   <item>
     <title>Celebrities headline relief efforts</title>
     <description>Stars are taking action to support those that lost their homes in Hurricane H by offering hands-on support</description>
     <link http://www.example.com/theexampletimes/article/celebrities-headline-relief-efforts.html>
     <guid>http://www.example.com/theexampletimes/id/1234567892</guid>
     <enclosure length="187000" type="audio/mpeg"
       url="http://www.example.com/theexampletimes/star_relief.mp3"/>
     <media:content url="http://www.example.com/theexampletimes/jane_doe_intro.mp3" type="audio/mpeg" expression="sample" />
     <media:group>
       <media:content url="http://www.example.com/theexampletimes/star_relief.mp3" type="audio/mpeg" />
       <media:content url="http://www.example.com/theexampletimes/star_relief.mp4" type="video/mp4" />
     </media:group>
     <media:credit scheme="urn:ebu" reporter="Jane Doe" />
     <media:thumbnail url="http://www.example.com/theexampletimes/star_relief.jpg"
       width="1000" height="1000" />
     <media:category label="hurricane relief efforts"/>
     <pubDate>Thu, 8 Jun 2018 09:20:00 GMT</pubDate>
     <!-- To set an expiration date for the story, submit any timestamp in the future in the following tag -->
     <dcterms:valid>end=2018-06-11T00:00:00+00:00; scheme=W3C-DTF</dcterms:valid>
     <itunes:duration>30</itunes:duration>
   </item>
   <item>
     <title>Jungle Cats win it all!</title>
     <description>Jungle Cats football fans celebrate again after 25-year drought!</description>
     <link http://www.example.com/theexampletimes/article/jungle-cats-win-it-all.html>
     <guid>http://www.example.com/theexampletimes/id/1234567893</guid>
     <enclosure length="187000" type="audio/mpeg" url="http://www.example.com/theexampletimes/jungle_cats_football.mp3"/>
     <media:group>
       <media:content url="http://www.example.com/theexampletimes/jungle_cats_football_4000.mp4" duration="129"
         type="video/mp4" bitrate="4096000" width="1920" height="1080"/>
       <media:content url="http://www.example.com/theexampletimes/jungle_cats_football_1500.mp4" duration="129"
         type="video/mp4" bitrate="1596000" width="960" height="540"/>
       <media:content url="http://www.example.com/theexampletimes/jungle_cats_football_400.mp4" duration="129"
         type="video/mp4" bitrate="496000" width="448" height="252"/>
       <media:content url="http://www.example.com/theexampletimes/jungle_cats_football.mp3" duration="129"
         type="audio/mpeg" bitrate="128000" width="0" height="0"/>
     </media:group>
     <media:category label="the Jungle Cats"/>
     <pubDate>Thu, 8 Jun 2018 11:03:00 GMT</pubDate>
     <!-- To remove the story, submit any timestamp in the past in the following tag -->
     <dcterms:valid>end=1970-01-01T00:00:00+00:00; scheme=W3C-DTF</dcterms:valid>
     <itunes:duration>129</itunes:duration>
   </item>
  </channel>
</rss>