Google is replacing its First Click Free model with the new Flexible Sampling model, to allow publishers to decide how many, if any, articles they wish to offer to readers and potential subscribers depending on their business strategies. This move comes after Google gathered information via its own research, publisher feedback and months-long experiments with the New York Times and Financial Times (FT).
With the new Flexible Sampling model, publishers are now only required to carry out monthly rather than daily metering – a sampling model that allows readers to see a pre-determined amount of free stories before being shown a paywall.
Richard Gingras, vice president, news, Google, wrote in a blog post that this not only provides publishers with more flexibility to test the number of free stories to offer, but also enables them to target potential subscribers more effectively. Gingras added that 10 free articles per month is a “good starting point” for publishers. Previously, the First Click Free model required publishers to provide a minimum of three free articles each day via Google Search and Google News.
Additionally, it aims to provide more subscription support to publishers by leveraging on its current identity and payment technologies to enable readers to subscribe on a publication’s website with the click of a button. Thereafter, users will be able to “seamlessly” access content from the specific publication anywhere such as mobile app, publisher’s site, Google News, Google Newsstand or Google Search. This saves the hassle of having to remember multiple passwords and re-entering credit card information.
Google is also working with publishers worldwide to create a subscription mechanism that is able to cater to the different news products and subscription models available. Gingras added that the company is looking into how its machine learning abilities can assist publishers in recognising potential subscribers and present the right offer to the relevant target audience at the appropriate time.
Jon Slade, chief commercial officer, FT said that advertising alone can no longer pay for the production and distribution of high quality journalism, during a time where society’s need for sustainable, independent journalism is increasing. Hence, reader-based revenue is a crucial component of a publisher’s revenue make up.