When using Google search, users will inevitably be met with a site that asks for login credentials before content is viewable at some point. Up until now, Google has forced all publishers to provide access to one webpage free of charge in order to be ranked highly in search results. This was known as the First Click Free policy and was meant to help drive traffic to sites that were not freely accessible all the time.
Publishers that utilize subscription models to monetize their websites have never been a large fan of Google's policy because it allowed anyone to view up to three free articles per day without signing up for a paid subscription. In order to improve relations with publishers, Google is replacing the First Click Free policy with Flexible Sampling.
The new program allows site owners to choose how many pages users can view after entering their site from a Google Search results page, ranging anywhere from hitting an immediate paywall to browsing freely without restrictions. The Flexible Sampling option also allows content producers to limit viewing on a monthly basis instead of on a daily basis. Google suggests that subscription model businesses try allowing ten free articles per month before mandating that a subscription is required.
The New York Times and the Financial Times are two of the largest subscription model businesses that are commonly found on search results pages. After expressing much displeasure about First Click Free, Financial Times gave a positive statement on the new changes. "The Financial Times is welcoming of Google's input and actions to help this critical sector of the media industry".