Google boosts subscription features for publishers

Anne Freier

In Mobile Advertising Blog. August 21, 2017

Google wants to create new tools for news publishers to make it easier to increase subscriptions. The company is currently working on three types of features including “first click free” that lets readers check out an article initially and subscribe for more content. In addition, the company is testing online payments and targeting measures to reach subscribers.
The New York Times and Financial Times are among the publishers currently testing the tools that would allow publishers to engage consumers and sustain advertising as part of the free Internet.
Given a recent shift towards digital media consumption, print advertising has declined in favour of digital ads. According to eMarketer, Google and Facebook are the dominating forces in the market accounting for around 60% of digital ad spend. Broken down, Google accounts for 41% of US digital revenues in 2017, whilst Facebook share equals a little less than half of that.
That makes them particularly important players for media outlets.
Facebook has already begun working on subscription features for its Instant Articles. Now, Google has followed suit and introduced features for publishers to find subscribers and improve the signing up process.
Vice President of News for Google, Richard Gingras, explained that advertising alone cannot sustain the publishing industry.

“But it’s also clear that we’re seeing a shift in a market. […] This is an area, clearly, where our knowledge about our users can be brought to bear. There is no singular subscription strategy that will work for each publisher.”

Although it’s not entirely clear what Google’s revenue sharing model will be, overall, its tools may offer great flexibility.
Testing with The New York Times saw sales of subscriptions increase 13.9% during Q2 and advertising revenue grew 0.8%.
According to Bloomberg News, the Wall Street Journal had previously decided to leave Google’s initial first click free programme earlier this year. The news outlet noted an increase in subscriptions, but a drop in Google traffic.