Google Makes Publishers with Subscriptions Happy

Google Unveils Tools to Increase Subscriptions for Publishers

"'Try before you buy' underlines what many publishers already know - they need to provide some form of free sampling to be successful on the internet", said Gingras. Google is now pledging to index all subscription news outlets in search, let publishers determine how many articles to provide free through the search engine, and will not demote them in results if they have little or no free content. The "First Click Free" policy - described as toxic by some large publishers - has been replaced by "Flexible Sampling".

The former policy required publishers to allow for three articles per day for free to Google search users.

When using Google search, users will inevitably be met with a site that asks for login credentials before content is viewable at some point.

Publishers were caught between a rock (lack of exposure if they did not adhere to Google's "first click free" requirement) and a hard place (not getting paid for content people desired), observed Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics. It had been widely decried by publishers, as not signing up for the scheme meant that articles published would not list as highly in Google search results.

Shares of companies like New York Times Co., News Corp.

Kinsey Wilson, the former executive editor of USA Today who now advises New York Times Co., said publishers must be careful about letting Google be the middleman to its readers.

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"Google appears honest in its intent to help publishers drive more subscriptions", said Greg Sterling, vice president of strategy and insights at the Local Search Association.

But digital subscriptions are rising rapidly for major established newspapers.

As part of its push, Google is working to make subscibing to publishers easier like single-click sign-ups through Android devices and Google services.

Google is also trying to streamline the subscription experience, VP of news Richard Gingras wrote in a blog post announcing the change. "Google can remove some friction", he said, "but publishers have to stay vigilant". The searchable information and the paid advertisements that Google publishes are two significant revenue sources for the company. Based on this, it also recommends that most publishers opt for a monthly, rather than daily, 10 articles for free limit.

Facebook, Alphabet's top rival in online advertising, is working on similar subscriber registration tools.

Google and Facebook are expected to hoover up the majority of digital advertising spend in the United Kingdom for the first time this year as print advertising declines. Google Now wants to simplify this with a shorter purchasing process.

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