Google scraps free content rule for publishers

Google unveils new moves to boost struggling news organizations

Google unveils new moves to boost struggling news organizations

It has been decided that subscription news websites will not be compelled to provide three free articles per day to users. "Publishers are in the best position to determine what level of free sampling works best for them", noted Richard Gingras, VP for News at Google, in a blog post.

Gingras also suggested to Search Engine Land that content users subscribe to may be boosted in search results, possibly in a box separating it from organic results.

News Corp reported a group-wide loss of $US643 million ($A821 million) for 2016/17, lower ad revenue and decline in circulation and subscription revenue in its core News and Information Services division pushed segment revenue down five per cent.

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In a press release, Richard Gingras, Google's vice president for news, said, "Over the previous year, we got clear indications that it was going to be important for publishers to grow subscription revenues".

But digital subscriptions are rising rapidly for major established newspapers. If publishers did not participate, Google did not fully index their articles, which made it less likely that the articles would appear prominently in search results. In addition, Google will share customers' details with the publishers. For example, the company is exploring the use of machine learning tools to help publishers identity potential subscribers so they can send customized offers to them. It has also been testing this new system with the Financial Times and the New York Times.

The change by Google that has the biggest ramification is its decision to eliminate the program of "first click free". And it argues that if publishers offer some free articles as a "try before you buy" it could persuade people to sign up for a paid account. Google emphasizes that providing some form of free content is a necessity to being successful online.

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If those accessing the content from Google didn't have to pay for stories, it certainly lessened the need to subscribe.

Google is now hoping that these new tools and software will encourage The Wall Street Journal and other publishers not to hold back valuable content.

"Google is certainly responding to the monetization and exposure concerns of the publishers", he told the E-Commerce Times. 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. "This gives us more room to test the right number". The goal is to help publishers identify possible subscribers and build a better subscription model, Google said.

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