Google plans on removing a policy that requires news organizations to offer consumers three free stories a day before readers are forced to subscribe to the service. Instead, news providers will be allowed to determine for themselves how many articles readers will be allowed to read for free. Robert Thomson, chief executive of News Corp., started squealing last month about Google's plans to eliminate the "first click free" policy.
Thomson pointed out that Google had these news providers by the short hairs. If they didn't get on board with the "first click free" policy, they would disappear from search results, not a good position to be in if you're depending on subscription fees to keep your publication alive. But after some negative comments from those in the industry, Google tested out its new plan with some heavy hitters like the New York Times
and the Financial Times
"Journalism provides accurate and timely information when it matters most, shaping our understanding of important issues and pushing us to learn more in search of the truth. People come to Google looking for high-quality content, and our job is to help them find it. However, sometimes that content is behind a paywall. While research has shown that people are becoming more accustomed to paying for news, the sometimes painful process of signing up for a subscription can be a turn off. That’s not great for users or for news publishers who see subscriptions as an increasingly important source of revenue. To address these problems we’ve been talking to news publishers about how to support their subscription businesses."-Richard Gingras, vice-president of news, Google
Part of the reason for the change is Google's realization that a one size fits all approach doesn't work in a business where each publication is different and unique. Besides removing the "first click free" policy, Google now makes it easier to subscribe to any of these publications by using Google's current payment system that allows subscriptions to be ordered with just one click of the mouse.