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Google is Ending First Click Free, What Does it Mean for Publishers?

Google is Ending First Click Free, What Does it Mean for Publishers?

Google is removing a controversial search feature called First Click Free, which let users view content that would otherwise be behind a paywall.

First Click Free actually required publishers to provide a minimum of three free articles, forcing some websites to give up more free content than they may have liked.

That’s going to change.

No More First Click Free

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

Flexible Sampling will allow publishers to decide how many pieces of content they want to give away, if any. A model called metering lets people see a pre-determined amount of articles before a paywall kicks in.

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Google recommends monthly metering, rather than daily, saying it gives publishers more flexibility to experiment. Ten articles per month is the recommended starting point.

Not allowing users to sample any content is highly discouraged. Google emphasizes that providing some form of free content is a necessity to being successful online.

Of course, the idea behind providing free content is to gain more subscriptions. Google is working on improving that process as well.

Simplified Subscription Process

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

Subscribing to a website is going to be as easy as a single click, Google says, by utilizing the company’s existing identity and payment technologies.

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Once subscribed, users will then be able to access content from a site across all of Google’s services.

Since every subscription model is different, Google’s plan to improve sign ups is still in the works until a solution can be developed to suit a variety of subscription types.

A machine learning component is also being worked on, which may be able to target the right offer to the right user at the right time.


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Matt Southern

Lead News Writer at Search Engine Journal

Matt Southern has been the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a degree in communications, Matt ... [Read full bio]

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