Google announced a series of measures, the most significant of which would be to replace the decade-old policy of requiring news organizations to provide one article discovered in a news search without subscribing — a standard known as “first click free.”
This will be replaced by a “flexible sampling” model that will allow publishers to require a subscription if they choose at any time.
This will allow news organizations to decide whether to show articles at no cost or to implement a “paywall” for some or all content.
Richard Gingras, Google’s vice president for news, said this new policy with effect from Monday, will be in place worldwide. He said it was not clear how many publishers would start implementing an immediate paywall as a result and Google is recommending a “metering” system allowing 10 free articles per month as the best way to encourage subscriptions.
The California tech giant also said it would work with publishers to make subscriptions easier, including allowing readers to pay with their Google or Android account to avoid a cumbersome registration process.
He also noted that people are becoming more accustomed to paying for news, but that “sometimes the painful process of signing up for a subscription can be a turn off and that’s not great for users or for news publishers who see subscriptions as an increasingly important source of revenue.”
He added that Google was not implementing the changes to generate revenues for itself, but that some financial details had not been worked out. Google does not intend to take a slice of subscription revenues, he noted, “Our intent is to be as generous as possible,” he said.