April 23, 2018

Google CEO Appeases Publishers With Subscriptions

03 October 2017, 08:39 | Francis Delgado

Google unveils new moves to boost struggling news organizations

Google unveils new moves to boost struggling news organizations

"Google's decision to let publishers determine how much content readers can sample from search is a positive development", said Kinsey Wilson, an adviser to New York Times CEO Mark Thompson in a statement.

For several years Google has required news providers - who wanted to receive prominent placement in search results - to allow visitors to their sites to view at least one news story for free with its 'First Click Free' policy.

Google has announced that its contentious "first click free" policy will be replaced with a new sample-based model created to bolster digital subscriptions as well as the revenue of media houses. "However, sometimes that content is behind a paywall", said Richard Gingras, VP of News at Google, in a blog post.

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

"Google search is valuable because there's a rich ecosystem out there", Gingras said.

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The change follows "months-long experiments" with both the New York Times and Financial Times, he added, both of which have paywalls. With readers opening tablets and phones rather than picking up a newspaper from the stoop or lawn, Google has vexed publishers as it gobbles up advertising dollars for content produced by those publishers. Under the new platform, publishers can have better control of how people access their content through Google. Google labels articles that require subscriptions in Google News. Google is recommending publishers allow 10 free articles per month as "a good starting point".

Google is going to simplify website subscriptions, believing that more people would subscribe if it were easier to do so.

Once punished in search results unless they offered users three free articles per day, publishers with paywalls will now be indexed in search results with the same criteria as free websites.

"Our goal is to make subscriptions work seamlessly everywhere, for everyone", said Gingras. He explained that Google has entered into a revenue-sharing agreement with publishers. Facebook, the biggest driver of new traffic online has taken similar steps. Google and Facebook combined will account for 60 percent of the USA digital advertising market this year, according to the research firm eMarketer. This listed articles higher in search results if publishers agreed to offer some stories for free.

"The other aspects - using ad targeting tactics and other mechanisms to expose publisher content to the right audiences - won't roll out for a little while, so we'll have to wait and see how that will work", Sterling said.

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