Overview

Google News on the Assistant is a news experience that brings you an audio news playlist assembled in that moment, just for you. It starts with a briefing of top news stories and updates on topics that you care about, and extends into longer-form content that dives deeper into more stories. At any point in your day when you want to listen to the latest news, such as when you wake up, in your commute, or while you jog, the Google Assistant is ready with new stories and updates to the ones you’ve already heard. Plus, you can easily ask the Google Assistant to skip a story, go back, or stop.

Availability and eligibility

Google News on the Assistant 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. To get started, check out the details below.

Set up your news content

To include your news content on Google News on the Assistant, your content must meet the following requirements:

If your news content follows all of these requirements, Submit your news content for Google News on the Assistant.

Content guidelines

For your content to be eligible for Google News on the Assistant, you must adhere to the following guidelines:

Playlist placement

For this feature, your stories fit into one of two parts of the playlist structure, determined by their length:

  • Short-format stories, which are under two minutes, play first. Most short-format stories are approximately 50 seconds.
  • Medium-format stories, which are 2-15 minutes long, play after a block of 5-8 short-format stories.

What to include

We recommend that stories in this news experience include the following:

Conversational headlines

Follow these guidelines when you create headlines:

  • Use verbs and articles like "the," "a," and "an."
  • Avoid dates.
  • Keep the length to 35-40 characters.
Clear introductions and ledes

Follow these guidelines for your introductions and ledes:

  • Say both the name of the show or publisher and the name of the person who speaks.

    This can be included as a separate <media:content> file in an mRSS feed.

  • Capture what the story is about early in the production. Use the lede to get the audience hooked. If the story had a host lead-in the initial broadcast, include audio or video of the lead-in the media file of the story.

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

Reliable structures

Follow these guidelines to create reliable structures:

  • Each story must stand alone. Avoid references to previous content.
  • Cover a single topic. Avoid an overview of multiple stories.
  • Make clear handoffs between voices. For example:
    • Host introduces themself and outlet.
    • Host delivers lede.
    • Host introduces reporter.
    • Reporter delivers story with tape.
    • Return to host for outro (optional).
Creative elements
Make audio-first or audio-rich content that's meant to be listened to, instead of read. For example:
  • Include more than one voice in a story.
  • Use natural or ambient sound to enrich the story. A report about wildfires might include the sound of a fire crackling.
Clear edits

Follow these guidelines when you edit the content:

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

Include an explicit content warning at the start of the story for stories with content or language that might be inappropriate.

For example, preface the story with a recorded message, such as "This story contains explicit language that might not be appropriate for all listeners."

What to avoid

We recommend that stories in this news experience avoid the following:

Words like "breaking" or time references like "today" or "this morning"
Stories might be shown in an on-demand experience, so they might appear after the original air date and time. Avoid these words and phrases in the story content, headlines, and show names.
Obscene, indecent, or profane content
Avoid any language that isn't appropriate for broadcast. See FCC guidelines for general guidance.
Promotional materials or stories with ads

This experience is a space for non-promotional storytelling and content. Individual stories shouldn't be promotional, nor contain sponsored content and advertisements.

Promotional material or ads are often embedded directly into the media files, so review your content thoroughly.

Music in short-format stories
Music in stories under two minutes can distract listeners, especially when the music included isn't for a specific story purpose.
Music in medium-format stories that's unrelated to the story
Music in stories that are between 2-15 minutes must be related to the story. Any music that's not related to the story, such as outro music, must not be longer than five seconds.
Music in intros in the mRSS specification
mRSS specification introductions are very short, 3-5 seconds, and might be used or reused in multiple stories in a single feed.
Phrases like "Hey Google" or "Ok Google" in outros in the mRSS specification
These phrases can wake up nearby devices. Use phrases that include what to ask. For example, "You can ask the Assistant to play our podcast [The Example Times], or "If you want to listen live, just ask to play [The Example Times] livestream.
Content that requires the visuals to be understood in video used as audio

Avoid use of the following types of content:

  • 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, like those from social media, or unedited video, like video from a press conference, can be difficult to understand without the visuals. Do not include these types of videos in the RSS feed.
  • Archived or previously aired content on trending topics. This type of content can sometimes include dated references. In general, avoid the use of content that's older than a week unless you provide context in the content itself that it's from an earlier broadcast.
  • Ephemeral content, like traffic updates or weather predictions. This type of content can become irrelevant soon after it's published. Opt to exclude these stories from the RSS feed.

Technical specifications

To check that your RSS feed meets the technical specifications for Google News on the Assistant, reference the following information:

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

Audio files with the following extensions are supported: aac, m3u (or m3u8), m4a, mp4, mpeg, and wav. For Google to use video files as audio, the video files 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.

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

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

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

<media:content url="http://www.theexampletimes.com/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.theexampletimes.com/star_relief.mp3"
   type="audio/mpeg" />
   <media:content url="http://www.theexampletimes.com/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.theexampletimes.com/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.theexampletimes.com</link>
   <description>The latest news from The Example Times.</description>
   <itunes:author>The Example Times</itunes:author>
   <image>
     <url>http://www.theexampletimes.com/logo.png</url>
     <title>The Example Times</title>
     <link>http://www.theexampletimes.com</link>
   </image>
   <item>
     <title>Pandas run loose</title>
     <description>Pandas escape from the San Francisco Zoo</description>
     <link>http://www.theexampletimes.com/article/pandas-run-loose.html</link>
     <guid>http://www.theexampletimes.com/id/1234567891</guid>
     <enclosure length="187000" type="audio/mpeg" url="http://www.theexampletimes.com/pandas_loose.mp3"/>
     <media:content url="http://www.theexampletimes.com/jane_doe_intro.mp3" type="audio/mpeg" expression="sample" />
     <media:content url="http://www.theexampletimes.com/pandas_loose.mp3" type="audio/mpeg" />
     <media:thumbnail url="http://www.theexampletimes.com/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.theexampletimes.com/article/celebrities-headline-relief-efforts.html</link>
     <guid>http://www.theexampletimes.com/id/1234567892</guid>
     <enclosure length="187000" type="audio/mpeg"
       url="http://www.theexampletimes.com/star_relief.mp3"/>
     <media:content url="http://www.theexampletimes.com/jane_doe_intro.mp3" type="audio/mpeg" expression="sample" />
     <media:group>
       <media:content url="http://www.theexampletimes.com/star_relief.mp3" type="audio/mpeg" />
       <media:content url="http://www.theexampletimes.com/star_relief.mp4" type="video/mp4" />
     </media:group>
     <media:credit scheme="urn:ebu" reporter="Jane Doe" />
     <media:thumbnail url="http://www.theexampletimes.com/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.theexampletimes.com/article/jungle-cats-win-it-all.html</link>
     <guid>http://www.theexampletimes.com/id/1234567893</guid>
     <enclosure length="187000" type="audio/mpeg" url="http://www.theexampletimes.com/jungle_cats_football.mp3"/>
     <media:group>
       <media:content url="http://www.theexampletimes.com/jungle_cats_football_4000.mp4" duration="129"
         type="video/mp4" bitrate="4096000" width="1920" height="1080"/>
       <media:content url="http://www.theexampletimes.com/jungle_cats_football_1500.mp4" duration="129"
         type="video/mp4" bitrate="1596000" width="960" height="540"/>
       <media:content url="http://www.theexampletimes.com/jungle_cats_football_400.mp4" duration="129"
         type="video/mp4" bitrate="496000" width="448" height="252"/>
       <media:content url="http://www.theexampletimes.com/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>