05 Oct'17

Google discard ‘first click free’ policy; fulfilling publishers’ feedback

Richard Gingras, Google’s Vice President of News, reveals in press release that Google are discarding their ‘first click free’ policy.


Google’s ‘first click free’ policy forced publishers to ‘provide a minimum of three free articles per day via Google Search and Google News’.


In The Guardian’s report of the ‘first click free policy’, they quote Robert Thomson, Chief Executive of News Corp, explaining that if publisher didn’t sign up to this policy, they virtually disappeared from the platform.


News Corps, owner of Wall Street Journal, and other publishers described the ‘first-click free’ policy as “toxic”.


Earlier this year the Wall Street Journal opted out of the ‘first click free’ policy.


The Financial Times stated that the Wall Street Journal saw a 94 percent decline in referrals from Google News in the first five months in 2017 when they opted out of the policy.


Google’s decision to discard the ‘first click free’ policy occurred after research, feedback from publishers, and experiments with The New York Times and Financial Times.


To replace the ‘first click free’ policy, Google are initiating a ‘Flexible Sampling’ model. This gives publishers the decision of whether they provide users free articles, and if so how many .


In Google’s press release, Gingras publishes a statement of endorsement from Kinsey Wilson, adviser to The New York Times CEO Mark Thomspson. Wilson states, ‘Google’s decision to let publishers determine how much content readers can sample from search is a positive development,’


Although the decision is now placed with publishers, Google do advise publishers to provide 10 free articles a month. More of Google’s advice can be found on their Webmaster blog.


Google are also developing their subscription support to publishers.


Gingras describes how Google are also working with publishers to create a ‘subscription mechanism that can meet the needs of a diverse array of approaches’.


DigdayUK highlight that both Google and Facebook have shifted to favour publishers’ business model, but believe that the platforms ‘still wield significant power over publishers’.



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