Google First Click Free Program Ending, Flexible Sampling the Replacement

The somewhat controversial Google First Click Free program comes to a close, with Flexible Sampling replacing it, giving news publishers more options…

Google just announced its First Click Free initiative will end, on its official blog. The search engine claims it introduced the program to serve public interest. But, many publishers requested its removal. 

Google First Click Free Program Over, Search Engine Announces Flexible Sampling as Its Replacement

Content and news publishers can now control access to articles. And, publishers can choose how many articles searches can view before encountering a paywall. However, Google still strongly recommends publishers make some content available for free through the SERP or search engine results page.

“Based on our investigations, we have created detailed best practices for implementing flexible sampling. There are two types of sampling we advise: metering, which provides users with a quota of free articles to consume, after which paywalls will start appearing; and lead-in, which offers a portion of an article’s content without it being shown in full.”

The search engine is working with different publishers, including The New York Times and Financial Times. The entities are testing a new approach. Google also recommends publishers use metering on a monthly basis, rather than daily. Metering is the practice of serving a paywall after a predetermined number of articles. Google furthermore recommends 10 articles is “a good starting point.”

The search engine also states its machine learning capabilities are attempting to identify potential subscribers to present the right offers. 

Owen E. Richason IV

Owen is blog content writer, SEO consultant, social media marketer, and website guy. His work has appeared in the Houston Chronicle, on Business.com, Tampa Bay Business and Financier, AOL and numerous other blogs and websites. is also a musician and is the founder of Groove Modes.