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New Media Age experiments with first click free

November 16, 2009 No Comment

New Media Age recently announced that it was raising a paywall around its online content:

“Like all other publishers, we’re experimenting with paid-for models online,” said editor Justin Pearse. “While previously lead stories from the magazine were accessible for free, we’re confident this content, together with the analysis our site provides to the industry, is worth paying for.” sign in to see (unless you came from Google, in which case I'll drop my knickers). sign in to see (unless you came from Google, in which case I'll drop my knickers).

The only exceptions to this rule were said to be opinon as well as daily breaking news which would remain free for seven days. Despite this, you can read any story on the site if you search for it on Google.

Accessing stories via Google

So try and access the URL I took that quote from directly and you're confronted with a login box. Likewise, search for the quote above on the site and click the result, and you get the login box again.

Now, instead, take the URL of that post, search for it on Google, and click the result - da da! You get to read the article.

This works with any URL on the site. Try to access this post directly - or else search for it on Google and get to read it.

First click free

So what's going on? NMA are taking advantage of google's first-click free program. Here's Google's explanation:

First Click Free is designed to protect your content while allowing you to include it Google's search index. To implement First Click Free, you must allow all users who find your page through Google search to see the full text of the document that the user found in Google's search results and that Google's crawler found on the web without requiring them to register or subscribe to see that content. The user's first click to your content is free and does not require logging in. You may, however, block the user with a login or payment or registration request when he tries to click away from that page to another section of your content site.

First-click free always raises a troubling question for me. How do you persuade your users that you're "confident this content ... is worth paying for" when it transpires you give it away to every tom, dick or harry who arrives via Google?

And maybe this isn't news to some of you. But there was a big debate on between Ashley Friedlein, CEO of econsultancy, and Andy Oakes, publisher of New Media Age.

At no point did Andy admit to using first-click free ... Maybe he's hoping paying subscribers won't notice?

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