First Click Free - Opportunity For The Publishers To Promote Previously Undiscoverable Content

Nick has posted his analysis on Google's First Click Free . This free service allows the content providers to participate into it and promote their content by making the first click free when users discover the content via Google and subsequently enforce registration or subscription for the rest of the content.

I think this is a great idea! I am personally against the walled garden approach and do not believe in registrations and subscriptions just because content providers haven't managed to convince me so far to register or subscribe to for their content. This is a great opportunity for the publishers to showcase their content by making the first link free, demonstrate the value proposition, and drive traffic towards the paid content.

The discussion on the service has so far centered around:
  • Google making other search engine's users second-class citizens and not sticking to an unmediated role.
  • Users' ability to trick the content providers to get access to all the pages by acting as if the request is coming from a Google bot
I do not buy into the criticism around Google's unmediated role. No one is stopping the other search engines to build a similar service and work with the content providers. Though I would expect Google to somehow differentiate the first click free content from the always free content on the search results so that users don't feel that they are being tricked.

I also do not buy into the argument that users can trick the content providers by faking the request as if it is coming from a Google bot. Google can very easily solve this technological challenge to ensure that only the Google bot and no one else gets access to all the free content.

As much as I appreciate and value this service I suspect that the many publishers won't get it. I hope publishers don't ask Google to pay for the traffic instead of being happy that Google is sending them the traffic. I also see a challenge and an opportunity for the publishers to redesign their website to convert the first free click into a registration, subscription, or a future visit.

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