Wall Street Journal’s traffic dropped by 44 percent after pulling out of Google’s First Click Free p
Wall Street Journal had withdrawn itself from Google’s First Click Free Program in February this year. The company reports that its site traffic has declined by 44 percent after pulling out from the program. However, the subscriptions have increased by fourfold. The company had decided to move out of the program because it thought that the number of subscriptions will balance out the decline in ad revenue caused by web traffic decline. However, I don’t have any information, either WSJ was able to balance out the ad revenue loss or not.
If a publisher such as WSJ participates in Google’s Free Click Program, the visitors from Google can access that publisher’s content bypassing paywall means for free.
If a publisher doesn’t participate in this program, Google can’t index the articles of that publisher and those articles don’t appear in top search results. Also, even if those results appear in Google News section, they contain a designation ‘subscription’ in front of them, which once again put off the search visitors to click on those article results, as the users will have to subscribe to read the content of those search result articles.
In normal web results, the same content or articles, which contain ‘subscription’ in front of them in Google News section, doesn’t contain this designation.
Also, these ‘subscription’ news results don’t appear in top results in Google News section, even if they appear in ‘top stories’ section of normal web results section.
Wall Street Journal finds the decline in traffic disappointing, and considers a discrimination against paid content sites.