Payment content: Google is coming to publishers for payment items

Herbert Rhodes
October 3, 2017

In future, publishers could determine wher and to what extent ir paid content is freely accessible on Google.

Google announced Monday that it's ending its "first click free" practice that allowed users to skirt publishers' paywalls.

This year, the Wall Street Journal stopped obeying Google's policy, resulting in a drop-in search ranking but growth in subscriptions.

The three free articles rule - which is also known as Google's "first click free" policy - was in practice for the last 10 years. With the change in policy now, Google would be indexing all subscription news outlets in its search engine and let publishers decide how many articles to provide for free.

Once subscribed, users will then be able to access content from a site across all of Google's services. For the uninitiated, Murdoch's News Corp. publishes two newspapers, i.e., The Times and The Sun.

Many news and journalism firms have seen this new initiative as beneficial and lucrative for the freelancers and independent writers who often faced financial issues due to Google's past policies regarding content creation and its marketing.

"It's really all an attempt to try to create a new world - a better world - for journalism", said Philipp Schindler, Google's chief business officer.

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Instead, the company will now allow publishers the freedom to choose the number of free articles users can read when found through Google's search engine.

The goal is to facilitate fast purchases that could take as little as a single click, Gingras said. He explained that Google has entered into a revenue-sharing agreement with publishers.

Google has also said it plans to help solve barriers to subscription, like the "hassles" of registering on a site, remembering multiple passwords and enterting credit card information. Media outlets such as the News Corp always complained that its sales figures were going down thanks to the non-subscription users visiting the site just for the free articles. According to Gingras, Google is also looking at ways to use machine learning to help publishers spot likely subscribers and target them with more effective subscription offers.

The move was welcomed by major publishers with subscription models.

Facebook, Alphabet's top rival in online advertising, is working on similar subscriber registration tools.

Google and Facebook are now taking the majority of the £10bn a year spent on digital advertising in the UK.

That program listed articles higher in the results of searchers if the publishers agreed to offer stories that were for free. Google Now wants to simplify this with a shorter purchasing process.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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