Google First Click Free Being Replaced by Flexible Sampling

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

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Google rolls out a suite of tools to help news publishers drive more subscription revenue, as it allows the growth of premium contents which ultimately serve users more high quality of news.

Towards this, the company has announced of ending the First Click Free (FCF), which was designed to provide users with a sample of subscription based contents hidden behind paywalls on Google web search and News. While, pusblishers are offered with promotion and discovery opportunities with subscription content.

FCF, a reasonable sampling model actually required publishers to provide a minimum of three free articles. Now, Google is replacing it with new features called 'Flexible Sampling,' so publishers can experiment with different free sampling schemes within webmaster guidelines. Publishers will actully be able to decide the amount of content to give away.

Google explains, spammers often using FCF for cloaking, "they serve Googlebot with different content than users, thus users don't get the content expected." For example, spammers used this bait and switch scheme to serve search engines interesting contents, say food recipes, but users are offered diet pills.

Google recommends paywalls sites to immediately apply this new structured data to their pages, because without it, the paywall, otherwise will be interpreted as cloaking, and webpages would then be removed from search results.

Thiis new Flexible Sampling provide two new models: 'metering,' which let users with a pre-determined quota of free articles to see, before a paywall kicks, and the second, is called 'Lead-in,' through which, a portion of an article is shown without it being shown in full. The truncated content can be first few sentences or 50-100 words of an article.

For metering, Google recommends a monthly metering, rather than daily, as it provides more flexibility for testing.

Google further notes, that publishers should start by providing 10 free clicks per month to search users. Before, starting optimizing a tradeoff between discovery and conversion that works best for their businesses.

Chek out this detailed best practices for implementing Flexible Sampling HERE.

Simplying Subscriptions

Subscribing to a paywall website will become as simpler as a single click, and the content will be seamlessly accessible from across publisher's site or mobile app, or on Google Newsstand, Google Search or Google News. The process utilizes company's existing identity and payment technologies.

And, since every subscription model is different, Google is collabortaing with publishers around the world to create a subscription mechanism for the diverse array of approaches.

Machine learning capabilities are also beign explored for targeting the right offer to the right audience at the right time.