Google is rewiring its search engine by ending 'first click free'


Google on Monday announced that it was dropping its decade-old policy of requiring media and news publishers to provide a limited amount of free content.

For news to appear in Google search, it had required that publishers show at least three articles each day to readers for free before they hit the paywall and were asked to sign in or subscribe.

Google is removing a controversial search feature called First Click Free, which let users view content that would otherwise be behind a paywall.

This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of articles that also appeared in the US print edition of The Wall Street Journal (October 2, 2017).

According to this policy, users who did not subscribe to the publisher's services would be allowed to see and read the full content of the first three news articles of the media outlet, avoiding restriction of the paywalls. Google at present is relying on relaxed rules and subscription software that is under construction to stop the Wall Street Journal and other publishers from keeping important content.

Google is making the move after feedback from publishers and readers and after tests with the New York Times and the Financial Times. It has also been testing this new system with the Financial Times and the New York Times. "And they are also introducing a much more flexible approach so you can still charge for content and at some stage in that journey those publishers who charge will be able to have some control of that", Mr. Newman told Sputnik. Google is taking this measure to promote digital subscriptions.

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While Google catches a lot of flak for disrupting the publishing model and causes headaches for publishers, speaking with AdNews last month when he was visiting Australia to meet with local publishers, VP of Google News Richard Gingras said actually it wasn't Google that caused it - it was the internet.

The objective is to provide fast purchases at a single click, said by Gingras.

Google is now banking on its relaxed policies and developing subscription tools to prevent major media houses and publications from holding back adequate content.

As part of the deal, Google is also offering publishers tools to make it easier to sell their content.

The relationship between Google and publishers is complex.

Google and Facebook are now taking the majority of the £10bn a year spent on digital advertising in the UK. Google is recommending publishers allow 10 free articles per month as "a good starting point". "He's very closely involved in a number of the publisher discussions", Schindler said.