For several years Google has required news providers - who wanted to receive prominent placement in search results - to allow visitors to their sites to view at least one news story for free with its 'First Click Free' policy. With sites like The Wall Street Journal and others enabling paywalls to view their content, this policy was intended to increase sales of these services to some extent.
However, the aforementioned news outlet's parent company News Corp has complained that the policy introduced by Google's parent company Alphabet Inc. has not paid off as intended, and sales of said subscriptions have suffered, due to what News Corp calls 'freeloaders' leeching off what should be paid content.
Last month, News Corp's CEO revealed that Google was planning on ending this policy; and on Sunday, Richard Gingras, Google Vice President of News officially announced that the company will loosen its grip on this particular matter. This will allow news outlets to fully enable the paid subscription model if they saw fit, and offer as many free articles as they wanted to new visitors if any.
In addition to this, Gingras announced that Google will introduce new tools to these sites, that allows them to sell a subscription to a new visitor with the payment information that the company has on file - that being if you have a registered credit card on the Play Store for instance. This is due to the fact that sites that come with a paywall have reached 'critical mass' according to Google, and requires the company to develop specific tools for them.
Gingras, however, did not mention anything in the way of how Google will - if at all - monetize this new platform for publishers:
“Google search is valuable because there’s a rich ecosystem out there, to the extent the web is healthy, that’s very good for our core business. Our objective is not for this to be a new line of business.”
According to a recent report, Facebook is testing out a similar subscription model of its arguably failed Instant Articles program which was used for 'fake news' that mostly made headlines during the US election last year. This new program will launch during this week, and The Washington Post has already agreed to have its news feature on the service according to the report.