Google To End Controversial 'First Click Free' Policy

03 October, 2017, 08:40 | Author: Cecelia Webb
  • The moves come amid mounting criticism that online platforms are siphoning off the majority of revenues as more readers turn to digital platforms for news. Reuters file

Google has unveiled a number of ways it is evolving its digital products and is working with publishers to make improvements on subscriptions, helping publishers make more money through subscriptions platforms.

Google is putting an end to a contentious policy that forced publishers to give away free articles so that they could appear on the tech giant's search engine.

In an effort to encourage more subscriptions, Google is replacing First Click Free with 'Flexible Sampling'.

Richard Gingras, vice-president of news at Google, said the new policy aimed to benefit both the readers and publishers by streamlining subscription process and boosting subscription revenues.

Of course, the idea behind providing free content is to gain more subscriptions.

Google just a few years ago regularly exchanged barbs with the major publishers of news. People come to Google looking for high-quality content, and our job is to help them find it. "We recommend that monthly, rather than daily, metering allows publishers more flexibility to experiment with the number of free stories to offer people and to target those more likely to subscribe", Gingras posted.

Talking about this change, the CEO at News Corp., Robert Thomson said it "will fundamentally change the content ecosystem" by supporting "the creation of coherent viable subscription models".

The US tech company has run some tests with The Financial Times and The New York Times to discover more about how beneficial the one-click free policy was to publishers. Google is changing its stance, which could mean that news from some publications via Google News and search results might be unreadable without having to subscribe.

The First Click Free bounded writers to offer some free stories to the search engine if they had to list their work in the top results of search engine.

In case you've never heard of FCF before, it was a requirement that publishers offered free access to at least three articles per day via search. Opting out of the FCF feature was detrimental because it demoted a publisher's ranking on Google Search and Google News.

Recent discussions with publishers have focused on loading the websites quicker and improving the video, then move to the subscriptions, said CBO of Google Philipp Schindler.

Another welcoming comment from The Financial Times' chief commercial officer, Jon Slade, was also included.

And Google said it aims to simplify the subscription process by enabling users to use login information and credit-card numbers already entered into their Google profiles.


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