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Google ditches First Click Free as part of publisher tools revamp

Google will end its First Click Free policy following trials with major global publishers the company revealed yesterday.

From this week a new ‘Flexible Sampling” model will allow publishers to decide how many free articles they want make available, Google News boss Richard Gingras announced in a blog post.

Richard Gingras

During his recent Sydney visit, Gingras foreshadowed many of the changes telling a media gathering: “There’s been a greater focus on subscription revenue, whereas historically it only paid for the newsprint and was only two or three percent of total revenue.

“Today, it’s likely to be a more significant if not dominant part of the revenue. Obviously that will only work if the news product seeking the subscription actually has a compelling value proposition that people recognise.

“If you’re going to drive subscriptions you have to drive awareness of your brand, give people an opportunity to sample your brand.

“We’re looking to provide capabilities that publishers can use at their option at every step of the way. Part of it is our approach to how sampling happens on Google Search.

“The other things we can do are to ease the friction of purchase, the things we can do to help publishers with their data and ours to understand where there are targets of opportunity in the market.”

Gingras’ comments are reinforced by yesterday’s blog post where he stated: “As a first step we’re taking advantage of our existing identity and payment technologies to help people subscribe on a publication’s website with a single click, and then seamlessly access that content anywhere – whether it’s on that publisher site or mobile app, or on Google Newsstand, Google Search or Google News.”

Other measures announced by Google yesterday include the rebuilding the company’s suite of publishers tools and a simplified subscription model.

Gingris also flagged better use of Google’s analytic capabilities in his blog post: “We’re also exploring how Google’s machine learning capabilities can help publishers recognise potential subscribers and present the right offer to the right audience at the right time.”

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