Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Google Communications Network Networking The Almighty Buck The Internet News

Wall Street Journal's Google Traffic Drops 44% After Pulling Out of First Click Free (bloomberg.com) 257

In February, the Wall Street Journal blocked Google users from reading free articles, resulting in a fourfold increase in the rate of visitors converting into paying customers. The tradeoff, as reported by Bloomberg, is a decrease in traffic from Google. Since the WSJ ended its support for Google's "first click free" policy, traffic from Google plummeted 44 percent. From the report: Google search results are based on an algorithm that scans the internet for free content. After the Journal's free articles went behind a paywall, Google's bot only saw the first few paragraphs and started ranking them lower, limiting the Journal's viewership. Executives at the Journal, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., argue that Google's policy is unfairly punishing them for trying to attract more digital subscribers. They want Google to treat their articles equally in search rankings, despite being behind a paywall. The Journal's experience could have implications across the news industry, where publishers are relying more on convincing readers to pay for their articles because tech giants like Google and Facebook are vacuuming up the lion's share of online advertising. Google says its "first click free" policy is good for both consumers and publishers. People want to get the news quickly and don't want to immediately encounter a paywall. Plus, if publishers let Google users sample articles for free, there's a better chance they'll end up subscribing, Google says. The tech giant likens its policy to stores allowing people to flip through newspapers and magazines before choosing which one to buy.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Wall Street Journal's Google Traffic Drops 44% After Pulling Out of First Click Free

Comments Filter:
  • WHAT?! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slashmydots ( 2189826 ) on Monday June 05, 2017 @09:23PM (#54556539)
    After what the WSJ did to Youtube (cost them 1 billion dollars) how the holy shit does WSJ still have anything to do with Google? Why didn't they delist them, ban them from adsense, and try to pretend they don't exist on the internet as payback for their bullshit?
    • Re:WHAT?! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ma1wrbu5tr ( 1066262 ) on Monday June 05, 2017 @09:46PM (#54556687) Journal
      They want Google to treat their articles equally in search rankings, despite being behind a paywall.

      Essentially :Free Advertising disguised as news.
      • Re: WHAT?! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I use google to search for whats available online and accessible. If I wanted to search wsj I'm sure they have their own search engine. May as well block the entire site.

      • by Mosquito Bites ( 4975333 ) on Monday June 05, 2017 @10:33PM (#54556887)

        "They want Google to treat their articles equally in search rankings, despite being behind a paywall"

        When I Google I look for article(s) that I can read, not articles that I have to hand over my wallet in order to read

        I only hand my wallet over to my wife

      • Re:WHAT?! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2017 @01:21AM (#54557391)
        But they *are* being treated equally. Short text = equal rating as other short (lower quality) texts. Or not?
      • they should buy the advertisement on google.

        seeriously. if they cannot view the info for free how the fuck could they index it for free and why would anyone of googles customers like that info to be there in the first place if they cannot access it.

      • Yeah, and I want a free pony, and I want Rupert to walk behind it with a shovel.

        • I want Rupert to walk 10 metres behind it my herd of elephants picking up what they leave the day after I've let the elephants gorged on fruit and vegetables. No shovel, gloves, or boots are allowed.

          Trump walks behind the elephants at 5 metres in just a t-shirt and a pair of shorts.

    • I'm an actual WSJ subscriber, and its beyond offensive that I can't "share" articles with friends and co-workers, without access and the subsequent nag to subscribe as well.. It's a perk that should be recognized with a subscription.
      • ctrl-A, ctrl-C, ctrl-F6, ctrl-V
      • Print the page and save it as a PDF. Does Windows have this ability built in yet? A long time ago I used to have to get a utility when I was using Windows to print to PDF. I think one of them was called CutePDF. Not as handy as sharing a link but it's something.

    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2017 @04:42AM (#54557805)

      I have a long string of "-site:xxxxxxxxx.com" to add to pretty much any search query I use, simply to weed out the useless pages. Just add "-site:wsj.com" to yours.

      I wish Google would offer the option to store such a string and add it automatically to every query you send. I'm pretty sure that information would be enlightening, also to their advertisers...

      • I used to know how to use google very well. Now Google thinks it knows better than me, and "corrects" all my search queries. It's getting to the stage where Bing produces more useful search results...
    • Why didn't they delist them, ban them from adsense, and try to pretend they don't exist on the internet as payback for their bullshit?

      There's these things called anti-trust laws. You may have heard of them. The idea that Google is all powerful is exactly why Google is not at liberty to use its power.

      • But technically, Google is not a monopoly, since it has many competitors, which includes Bing.

        • But technically, Google is not a monopoly, since it has many competitors, which includes Bing.

          No, that's not how that works. Windows had competitors, too. But their position in the marketplace was considered to be a de facto monopoly. That's what the USDoJ said when they also said that they had basically acted in every anticompetitive way possible. Right before Bush let them off the hook through Ashcroft. I don't know why I keep getting declared a conspiracy theorist for pointing out that it happened, or that so many billions of dollars are involved that there had to be something tricky going on the

        • When you have eighty percent of the market, you have a monopoly. The fact that your best competitor only has ten percent means it doesn't really count.

  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Monday June 05, 2017 @09:28PM (#54556563)
    I had subscriptions to The New York Times and Wall Street Journal for years, so the paywall situation doesn't effect me. However, I agree with the way Google prioritizes free content vs. paywall content. WSJ will have to find the sweet spot between offering free content and acquiring subscribers. Just like every other content creator on the Internet.
    • Exactly, the majority of people searching get no value from paywalled content.

      It's less relevant in the real sense that it's irrelevant to the majority of users.

      Also, conversion to paid doubled on real numbers, so it sounds like it went fine (44% decrease, 4x conversions).

      • the majority of people searching get no value from paywalled content. It's less relevant in the real sense that it's irrelevant to the majority of users....

        I think this depends on the person, the search, and the cost for accessing the media. A better search engine would know how likely you are to pay for premium content and would suggest it to you. It would also be able to push you towards premium content if it was really worth it. A search engine that gives everyone free but crappy results is not necessarily the best.

        • Google scholar can search for documents in sites you have a subscription to, sounds like something similar for general or new search. Of course I expect it costs money for Google to handle each case, I'm sure WSJ could afford to pay for that...

  • You cannot establish a medium (the Internet) based on free and open access and expect to convert it into a paid medium. The simple truth is that there a re million sources for news. Whether or not they are reputable doesn't matter to the mass consumer (or so it appears). If you begin to charge for content, you will only receive the small sampling of people who care about the reputation of your site. So - STOP WHINING. Geeze. This is the market people. Stop trying to fit your old broken models on t
    • by speedplane ( 552872 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2017 @02:19AM (#54557507) Homepage

      The simple truth is that there a million sources for news.

      There actually aren't. The vast majority of news is generated from a handful of organizations with real humans on the ground doing the work. The other "sources" of news read and summarize those original articles, often with a much lower quality level. If you believe that by searching the internet for news you're getting a "million" different opinions and analyses, you're just wrong.

  • Google is correct (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Baron_Yam ( 643147 ) on Monday June 05, 2017 @09:30PM (#54556577)

    They index and rank what is available. If you want something to be indexed and ranked... make it available. I've no sympathy at all for someone who wants simultaneously have and eat their cake.

    The market will find a balance between monetization and reader base. I suspect it will involve giving away a complete summary and limiting subscribers to those interested in in-depth analysis.

    • This. How exactly does the WSJ expect Google to rank their articles properly if they can't crawl them?

      • They probably allow access to "googlebot" just not other browers. So technically possible, but against google tos.
        • They probably allow access to "googlebot" just not other browers. So technically possible, but against google tos.

          So what's stopping us from posing as Googlebot? Are WSJ also filtering on IPs?

          • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

            So what's stopping us from posing as Googlebot? Are WSJ also filtering on IPs?

            A lot of sites actually did this in the past - they'd hide their content behind all sorts of ads and login required blocks, but Google would fully index them (you can always tell because the "cached" link would reveal all). A site with a lot of experts on sex changes did stuff like this often.

            People eventually figured it out and surfed as Googlebot to get at all the answers in the open.

            So it doesn't really work for either end - be

  • Goodbye WSJ (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 05, 2017 @09:35PM (#54556609)

    Want to know the future? Look at what college kids are doing. When Forbes implemented their paywall the number of citations they recieved, and more importantly the number of citations the authors and articles highlighted in Forbes, dropped to almost nothing. Just look up the cite numbers at your local Alma Mater Library portal.

    Forbes is dead to anyone under 28.

    Now the Wall Street Journal wants to go the same route. What do these companies think will happen when potential customers grow up, go to university, get advanced degrees, and start their career without having any direct contact? They think of paywalled companies as relics of their parent's generation, doomed to die and never convert to customers.

    Having a paywall is an explicit "We want our company to die with baby boomers."

    • by lucm ( 889690 )

      Want to know the future? Look at what college kids are doing.

      Wearing soft clothes, pretending to care about minorites and getting STDs?

    • Baby boomers are going to be with us for a long time... Today's management will be retired by the time baby boomers are dead.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      It seems like the free-to-read model isn't working for a lot of publications, and they see that some people can and do charge for content and do quite well out of it. The Financial Times is a great example - somewhat niche contant that people are more than willing to pay for.

      I don't think it will work for the WSJ. Maybe the solution is some kind of "Netflix for news", where you pay one monthly subscription and get access to a wide variety of different newspapers and magazines.

      • I don't think it will work for the WSJ. Maybe the solution is some kind of "Netflix for news"

        The solution is for a lot of newspapers to go out of business, for the simple reason that they are not needed anymore.

    • When Forbes implemented their paywall the number of citations they recieved, and more importantly the number of citations the authors and articles highlighted in Forbes, dropped to almost nothing.

      College kids are smarter than Slashdotters, then. Forbes delivered malware to site visitors and people are STILL posting Forbes links here on Slashdot, in spite of the fact that a Forbes story is never the best story on any subject. Shark jumped.

    • Is Forbes still a serious publication? The only stuff I see from them is on social media and is that inane "n things that will surprise you!" clickbait. Amusingly, without fail the first comment is the bulleted list followed by mocking Forbes for going Gawker.
  • by blahbooboo ( 839709 ) on Monday June 05, 2017 @09:39PM (#54556637)

    So WSJ wants what is essentially free advertising for its articles. If it's so important, WSJ should pay Google with Ad Sense like every other company.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by speedplane ( 552872 )

      So WSJ wants what is essentially free advertising for its articles. If it's so important, WSJ should pay Google with Ad Sense like every other company.

      Is Google's job to return the most relevant results, the most relevant free results, or the most relevant results weighted by their cost for access?

      • Is Google's job to return the most relevant results, the most relevant free results, or the most relevant results weighted by their cost for access?

        I would love to be able to set that in my preferences. But in any case, GoogleBot needs access to the page in order to index it.

      • by GNious ( 953874 )

        2 articles, 1 can be fully read and indexed by Google, the other only 1-2 sentences.
        Google will make the former more available, simply because of the content.

  • Google's search result would be trash if every other link led to a page that needs subscription. Plain and simple. Then there are those geolocked sites, too...
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      A search engine works for the user who is exposed to ads. The result is the user gets the content they want. A paywall is not content.
    • I like the way AndroidTV does the indexing of movies. AndroidTV knows if I'm currently subscribed to Netflix.

      When I was subscribed to Netflix and had the app installed, it showed me Netflix results among the other results when I used the google search bar. And when I stopped subscribing and uninstalled the app, it no longer showed me those Netflix results among my general results. This is as it should be.

  • by WolfgangVL ( 3494585 ) on Monday June 05, 2017 @10:18PM (#54556821)

    For decades, sites have been falling over themselves to appear more palatable to search engines. Now REVOLT! Good for the net. Keep it up.

  • by Cipheron ( 4934805 ) on Monday June 05, 2017 @10:29PM (#54556877)

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/w... [wsj.com]

    On May 19th, WSJ published an editorial AGAINST Net Neutrality. Now, they want a provider to lean over backwards to give them better access to customers, for "fairness". LOL hypocrites.

  • by supernova87a ( 532540 ) <(kepler1) (at) (hotmail.com)> on Monday June 05, 2017 @10:33PM (#54556889)
    Well, you know the problem with Google's "first click free", was that if you repeatedly used incognito mode to Google search any WSJ article headline and open the link, every click turned out to be free... So the WSJ may have gotten wise to that and realized that completely cutting off people would finally get them to pony up the money.

    Same for a lot of paywalls where they want to get you in the door but aren't measuring the unintended effects (cannibalizing their own subscription rate) very well....
  • "owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., argue that Google's policy is unfairly punishing them for trying to attract more digital subscribers."

    Even in theory it is impossible to "unfairly punish" Murdoch's News Corp.

  • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2017 @05:05AM (#54557841)
    Two news sites equal in terms of reporting etc. One offers news for free, the other is behind a paywall. Which is more relevant to someone typing a search into Google?

    The answer is obviously the first one and a ranking algorithm is going to take relevance into account. I don't see any reason that Google owes any paywall site a free lunch. More to the point, putting paywalls high in the list risks degrades the quality of results and therefore hurts Google.

    Google should tell them to GTFO. Maybe even delist paywalls entirely.

    • >Google should tell them to GTFO. Maybe even delist paywalls entirely.

      Flagging the result as 'paywalled' and allowing a new filter to remove paywalled sites from your results would probably be a better solution.

  • I would like a button to permanently kill all for-pay news sites in search results and Google News: I never want to see them.

    It would also be helpful if Google made it easier to remove specific news sources with a single click.

When we write programs that "learn", it turns out we do and they don't.

Working...