Google's Ending its Controversial 'First Click Free' Policy

Google's Ending its Controversial 'First Click Free' Policy

Google's Ending its Controversial 'First Click Free' Policy

The so-called "first click free" policy meant that publishers had to make a certain amount of content available to users who conducted a search on Google, even if their stories, videos or images otherwise were behind a paywall.

The change by Google that has the biggest ramification is its decision to eliminate the program of "first click free". This listed articles higher in search results if publishers agreed to offer some stories for free.

Google's shift will likely have an impact on more than just well-known sites, giving publishers more control over what the search engine shares-without the disadvantages of putting a hard paywall on content. Additionally, its traffic from Google News has decreased by 89 percent in that same timespan. Some big-name publishers have downgraded the importance they put on these platforms and instead are attempting to form more direct relationships with readers, including through subscriptions that provide a better business model. Google says that it has been performing research and experiments with the New York Times and Financial Times noting that both of those publications run successful subscription services.

Google's users seek high-quality content, the company said, and while its search engine is there to help users find that content, sometimes it is behind a paywall.

Google is responsible for driving 10 billion clicks to online publishers every month, and the company sees the move as a way to help publishers complete the transition from print to digital. That include introducing single-click subscriptions on Android and through other Google services.

"Over the past year, we got clear indications that, yes, it was going to be important for publishers to grow subscription revenues", he said. Google has a hard courtship publicly with other online publishers as well.

Google has been meeting with publishers over the past several weeks about improving website load times and video performance.

After years of contention, Google is working alongside publishers to boost content sales.

"Over the previous year, we got clear indications that, yes, it was going to be important for publishers to grow subscription revenues", Richard Gingras, Google's vice president for news, told Reuters.

Google will be offering publishers payment tools for online, methods of targeting readers and features that are customized inside the Google News section for its existing subscribers. The company is not looking to own their customers; rather, it will provide the name of the user, their email and, if necessary, their address, Gingras said.

Google is also exploring how its machine learning capabilities can come to the aid of publishers that need to recognise the right subscribers at the right time.

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