Google’s First Click Free Replaced with Flexible Sampling

Google’s First Click Free Replaced with Flexible Sampling

Google first introduced First Click Free (FCF) ten years ago and it was intended to let users sample publisher content and let them determine the value of said content. However, publishers first had to give permission to Google Search to access news articles that are behind a paywall, otherwise the articles will not show on search results which in turn will adversely affect the publisher’s ranking on Google News.

In order to better allow publishers to monetize their content and reach out to new audiences, Google has decided to replace FCF with Flexible Sampling. With Flexible Sampling, publishers get to decide which sampling strategy works best for them, and can choose from metering or lead-in.

Metering gives users and first-time visitors to a site the free right of use to a fixed number of articles before they have to pay for a subscription plan to access more content. Harvard Business Review and The Information are publishers that use this sampling strategy.

Lead-in, used by the MIT Management Review and Campaign Asia-Pacific, is a sampling strategy that allows users to access a limited part of an article, with the entire article made available only after subscription.

This change from FCF to Flexible Sampling works both ways – publishers benefit by being able to extend their reach and monetize more effectively, and Google’s position is also further improved. Google currently directs 10 billion clicks to publishers every month and with this modification in sampling, this number is expected to rise significantly.

Additionally, Google is also working on a new range of tools for publishers. Firstly, there will be a single-click signup service for Android and Google service users for publishers and then Google will provide publishers with its user data so that they can effectively reel in more paid subscribers.

The switch from FCF to Flexible Sampling will be implemented this week.


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