Google Drops Requirement For News Publishers To Offer Free Content Clicks

Google unveils new moves to boost struggling news organizations

Google also plans to launch free software in the coming months for publishers that enables users to pay for content with credit card information that they've previously supplied to the search giant.

While Google believed that free samples would encourage users to subscribe to their favourite news sites, this hasn't been the case and large media companies have argued against the company's policy. After those three free stories daily were consumed by the reader, they could be shown a paywall to try and convert the reader to a subscriber.

According to Richard Gingras, Google's vice president for News, the company has been working together with various publishers. That hasn't been the case, and Google has now chose to reorder the balance of its algorithms to not penalise paywalled content.

Instead, Google is introducing a "Flexible Sampling" model which will allow subscription-based publishers to decide who many (if any at all) free articles they would like to provide. That's not great for users or for news publishers who see subscriptions as an increasingly important source of revenue. To facilitate that the Alphabet division is looking at how to simplify purchases to drive the uptake of subscriptions.

Sundar Pichai, Google's chief executive officer, has made the subscription effort a priority. Still, its core business always has been built around search - and of course, the advertising dollars that search can provide.

Google is also planning to leverage its machine-learning capabilities to help publishers "recognize potential subscribers and present the right offer to the right audience at the right time", Gingras wrote. Google is ending its controversial policy requiring publishers to offer at least a few news stories for free or risk their ranking in search results - and further sweetening the deal by sharing user data for easier subscription signups and offers. For the uninitiated, Murdoch's News Corp. publishes two newspapers, i.e., The Times and The Sun. Publishers generally recognise that giving people access to some free content is the way to persuade people to buy their product.

The US tech company has run some tests with The Financial Times and The New York Times to discover more about how beneficial the one-click free policy was to publishers.

Publishers, rejoice: First Click Free is dead. Google did not respond to a request for comment. Google is changing its stance, which could mean that news from some publications via Google News and search results might be unreadable without having to subscribe.

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