Google ends First Click Free policy on paywall content

03 October, 2017, 08:38 | Author: Yolanda Murray
  • Google Unveils Tools to Increase Subscriptions for Publishers

Nic Newman, digital media and product strategist and a Visiting Fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, said the decision to abandon the "first click free" policy showed Google was under pressure.

News Corp said it had been involved in serious direct negotiations with Google about the future of content and about their relationship.

Amid rising complaints from prominent media houses, Google has finally relaxed its rules for free news content on its search engine. This will allow publishers to determine the quantity of content pieces that they will give out for free -many may no longer give any pre-paywall content out at all. If publishers did not participate, Google did not fully index their articles, which made it less likely that the articles would appear prominently in search results. Shares in Gannett ( GCI ) climbed 2.2% to 9.20, Tronc ( TRNC ) gained 1.6% to 14.76 and the New York Times ( NYT ) added 1.5% to 19.90.

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Kinsey Wilson, the former executive editor of USA Today who now advises New York Times Co., said publishers must be careful about letting Google be the middleman to its readers.

Paid news sites have long chafed at Google's decade-long requirement that they offer free access to at least three stories daily. That include introducing single-click subscriptions on Android and through other Google services.

Part of the reason for the change is Google's realization that a one size fits all approach doesn't work in a business where each publication is different and unique. Beginning this week, publishers will be allowed to decide how many free articles to offer through Google searches - if any - before requiring readers to pay. "We are also looking at how we can simplify the purchase process and make it easy for Google users to get the full value of their subscriptions across Google's platforms".

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Google is now banking on its relaxed policies and developing subscription tools to prevent major media houses and publications from holding back adequate content. Facebook, the biggest driver of new traffic online has taken similar steps. Mr. Gingras said Google expected to begin rolling out its suite of subscription support services in the first half of next year.

Google has recommended that paywall publishers start by offering ten articles per month for free and then varying the meter as required.

"The Financial Times is welcoming of Google's input and actions to help this critical sector of the media industry, and we've worked very closely with Google to aid understanding of the needs that publishers have and how Google can help".

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