Google to abandon “first click free” policy to assist digital publications industry

Pouyan Broukhim
|Oct 2|magazine5 min read

Google has announced that it will be ditching its “first click free” policy, whereby paid-for news providers are required to offer free articles in order to appear in the platform’s search engine results.

Instead of forcing subscription-based publishers to provide three free articles before users reach a pay wall, the US company will offer a more flexible sampling model whereby the providers will decide how many articles, if any, it offers on a free view basis.

The move is designed to support the growth of the digital subscriptions industry, with many sites having been hampered by Google’s current policy.

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“If you don’t sign up for ‘first click free’, you virtually disappear from a search. Given the power of that Google platform, that is disadvantaging premium content of great provenance,” said Robert Thomson, Chief Executive of News Corp, speaking to the Guardian.

The tech-company received positive feedback from both readers and providers in the trial of its more flexible system with the New York Times and the Financial Times.

Google is also launching improvements to its subscriptions services in tandem with this, making it easier for users to subscribe to news providers, now requiring just one click.