Google: First Click Free is over, being replaced by Flexible Sampling

Most online news publications are not able to support themselves with advertising these days. For this reason, among others, Google is yielding to publisher requests and replacing its much-debated “First Click Free” program with what it calls “Flexible Sampling.”

Content and news publishers will now control whether and how many articles they want to let searchers access before showing a paywall or subscription prompt. The company is also working on an array of other tools to help boost publisher subscriptions.

End of First Click Free

Google’s VP for news, Richard Gingras, told me last week that the company has been collaborating with publishers and testing the new approach with The New York Times and Financial Times specifically. But despite allowing publishers greater flexibility, Google is still recommending (but not enforcing) that publishers make some content available for free in search results:

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