Sci-tech

Google scraps much-criticised 'First Click Free' policy

Google scraps much-criticised 'First Click Free' policy

Under the policy, news websites were obliged to offer readers free access to three free articles a day in order to appear in the search engine's listings.

This year, the Wall Street Journal stopped obeying Google's policy, resulting in a drop-in search ranking but growth in subscriptions. Now, publishers that decide to opt out of Flexible Sampling won't be demoted in Google search rankings. In a blog post, Google News chief Richard Gingras announced that First Click Free was being replaced by a new policy called "Flexible Sampling".

He said that past year the count of news outlets with paywalls had attained a certain mass, to the point that it made sense for Google to initiate making tools for them. 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. The News Media Alliance, which represents, almost 2,000 news organizations, say that because Google and Facebook are so dominant, news publishers are forced to "surrender their content and play by their rules on how news and information is displayed, prioritized and monetized".

Shares of companies like New York Times Co., News Corp.

Up until now Google has required news outlets to provide access to three articles to the readers free of charge.

Google over the years has expanded its original focus to undertake everything from developing a mobile phone operating system to carrying out experimental projects, including development of autonomous vehicle technologies.

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In an attempt to smooth over tensions with media groups, Google began collaborating in August with the New York Times and the Financial Times, both of which rely on paywalls, to run trials with lower numbers of free daily articles.

The goal is to facilitate fast purchases that could take as little as a single click, Gingras said. "That's not great for users or for news publishers who see subscriptions as an increasingly important source of revenue".

Google has shared some high-level concepts with publishers like the Times, Grossman-Cohen said.

Similarly, Google will use its existing identity and payment infrastructures to enable easier signups for people who want to subscribe to particular publications.

Google and Facebook are expected to hoover up the majority of digital advertising spend in the United Kingdom for the first time this year as print advertising declines.

For the typical consumer, this it probably means you'll be reading fewer features and more listicles until you're willing to pay up, and it's possible that publishers could severely restrict the number of free articles available to users, a gamble that could result in either an increase in paid subscribers or an overall decrease in site traffic. "He's very closely involved in a number of the publisher discussions", Schindler said.


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