Google finally drops its controversial ‘first-click free’ program

Search engine giant Google has finally taken an important decision which will appease publishers with subscriptions. The US company, as part of its decision to support and encourage the growth of digital subscriptions, has finally decided to replace its controversial ‘first click free’ policy which forces news providers or publishers to offer three free articles a day before readers came across a paywall.

Google appeases publishers

Hence, now Google has decided to appease the publishers and has provided them new tools to attract more paying customers. By doing this, Google will help those news organizations that provide information for its search engine but have lost ad revenue due to the rising internet. Google has finalized to index all subscription news outlets in search, let publishers determine how many articles they want to provide free through the search engine, and along with that it will not lower or banish them in results if they have little or no free content.

‘First click free’ policy was disappointing

Publishers like Axel Springer and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp were very disappointed with the ‘first click free’ policy and defined it as ‘toxic.’ Last month, Robert Thomson, the chief executive of News Corps., which publishes the Sun and the Times, informed at a conference that Google has constantly been trying to get rid of its ‘first click free’ model and if this happens then it would fundamentally change the content ecosystem.

Flexible Sampling

Google has finally decided to replace its ‘first click free’ policy with a new program called Flexible Sampling. Through this Google is going to offer its publishers new online payment tool, efficient methods to target readers and also customized features inside Google news for existing subscribers. This new move is taken by Google after getting feedbacks readers and publishers and after testing its subscription tolls with The New York Times and The Financial Times. This new set of subscription tools will help news publishers drive more subscription revenue. But Richard Gingras, Google VP for news said that, although they are allowing publishers greater flexibility through this new approach, still they would recommend publishers to make some content available for free in search results.

Gingras also added that publishers would not be required to provide free content to be indexed. He said that Journalism provides accurate and timely information when it matters the most, and that’s why people come to Google for high-quality content. So their job is to provide them with the best of the contents and with accurate information. As people are becoming more accustomed towards paying for the news, it becomes very important on the part of Google to provide users or new publishers a worry-free and quick subscription process, and that is why they are dropping ‘first click free services.’ Google CEO Sundar Pichai has made the subscription effort a priority and is closely involved in some publisher discussions.

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