Can you afford to retire?

3 months 1 week ago
HOW much money do you need to retire? Depending on your age, it is a question you think about a lot (if retirement is imminent) or barely at all. For younger people, the subject is a combination of too far away, too complex and too boring, and too depressing.

Should You Aim for 100 Percent Test Coverage?

3 months 1 week ago

Editorial note: I originally wrote this post for the NDepend blog.  You can check out the original here, at their site.  While you’re there, check out all of the different code metrics and rules that NDepend offers. Test coverage serves as one of the great lightning rods in the world of software development.  First, people […]

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Erik Dietrich

The Different Pair Programming Styles

3 months 2 weeks ago

Editorial note: I originally wrote this post for the Stackify blog.  You can check out the original here, at their site.  While you’re there, check out their products that help you wrangle production issues in a hurry. The world of professional programming produces some pretty intense debates.  For example, take a look at discussions about […]

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Erik Dietrich

Driving the future of digital subscriptions

3 months 2 weeks ago

Journalism provides accurate and timely information when it matters most, shaping our understanding of important issues and pushing us to learn more in search of the truth. People come to Google looking for high-quality content, and our job is to help them find it. However, sometimes that content is behind a paywall.

While research has shown that people are becoming more accustomed to paying for news, the sometimes painful process of signing up for a subscription can be a turn off. That’s not great for users or for news publishers who see subscriptions as an increasingly important source of revenue.

To address these problems we’ve been talking to news publishers about how to support their subscription businesses with a focus on the following:

  • First, Flexible Sampling will replace First Click Free. Publishers are in the best position to determine what level of free sampling works best for them. So as of this week, we are ending the First Click Free policy, which required publishers to provide a minimum of three free articles per day via Google Search and Google News before people were shown a paywall.
  • Longer term, we are building a suite of products and services to help news publishers reach new audiences, drive subscriptions and grow revenue.
  • We are also looking at how we can simplify the purchase process and make it easy for Google users to get the full value of their subscriptions across Google’s platforms.

Our goal is to make subscriptions work seamlessly everywhere, for everyone.

First Click Free

We will end our First Click Free policy in favor of a Flexible Sampling model where publishers will decide how many, if any, free articles they want to provide to potential subscribers based on their own business strategies. This move is informed by our own research, publisher feedback, and months-long experiments with the New York Times and the Financial Times, both of which operate successful subscription services.  

"Google's decision to let publishers determine how much content readers can sample from search is a positive development,” said Kinsey Wilson, an adviser to New York Times CEO Mark Thompson. "We're encouraged as well by Google's willingness to consider other ways of supporting subscription business models and we are looking forward to continuing to work with them to craft smart solutions."

Publishers generally recognize that giving people access to some free content is the way to persuade people to buy their product. The typical approach to sampling is a model called metering, which lets people see a pre-determined number of free stories before a paywall kicks in. We recommend the following approach:

  • Monthly, rather than daily, metering allows publishers more flexibility to experiment with the number of free stories to offer people and to target those more likely to subscribe.
  • For most publishers, 10 articles per month is a good starting point.
  • Please see our Webmaster blog and our guide on Flexible Sampling for more detail on these approaches.

“Try before you buy” underlines what many publishers already know—they need to provide some form of free sampling to be successful on the internet. If it’s too little, then fewer users will click on links to that content or share it, which could have an effect on brand discovery and subsequently may affect traffic over time.

Subscription support

Subscribing to great content should not be as hard as it is today. Registering on a site, creating and remembering multiple passwords, and entering credit card information—these are all hassles we hope to solve.

As a first step we’re taking advantage of our existing identity and payment technologies to help people subscribe on a publication’s website with a single click, and then seamlessly access that content anywhere— whether it’s on that publisher site or mobile app, or on Google Newsstand, Google Search or Google News.

And since news products and subscription models vary widely, we’re collaborating with publishers around the world on how to build a subscription mechanism that can meet the needs of a diverse array of approaches—to the benefit of the news industry and consumers alike.  

We’re also exploring how Google’s machine learning capabilities can help publishers recognize potential subscribers and present the right offer to the right audience at the right time.

“It's extremely clear that advertising alone can no longer pay for the production and distribution of high quality journalism—and at the same time the societal need for sustainable independent journalism has never been greater.  Reader-based revenue, aka paid-content, or subscription services, are therefore not just a nice-to-have, but an essential component of a publisher's revenue composition,” said Jon Slade, FT Chief Commercial Officer.

“The Financial Times is welcoming of Google's input and actions to help this critical sector of the media industry, and we've worked very closely with Google to aid understanding of the needs that publishers have and how Google can help. That mutual understanding includes the ability to set controls over the amount of free content given to readers, a level playing field for content discovery, optimised promotion and payment processes. It is important that we now build and accelerate on the discussions and actions to date.”  

We are just getting started and want to get as much input from publishers—large, small, national, local, international—to make sure we build solutions together that work for everyone.  

Making Money through Tech Blogs

3 months 2 weeks ago

It’s reader question Monday again.  Lately, I’ve been talking a lot about entrepreneurial topics or about topics related to Developer Hegemony.  But today, I’ll answer a different flavor of reader question.  This one is about tech blogs.  Or, more specifically, it’s about how owners of tech blogs should price things. I was recently asked by a […]

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Erik Dietrich

The High Five: insights on the top search trends of the week

3 months 2 weeks ago

This week people searched for free coffee, the death of a media mogul, help with IKEA tasks and new wheels from Ford. And as Puerto Rico reels from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, people want to know how they can help. Here are the top trends of the week, with data from Google News Lab.

Hurricane Maria

Puerto Rico continues to grapple with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which left many without power and desperate for food, electricity and communication services. People in the U.S. continue to search for “hurricane donation” (interest went up 185% this week), as well as “How powerful was Hurricane Maria?” “How to donate to Puerto Rico” and “What is the Jones Act?” (A law that was waived to get relief to Puerto Rico quicker). The top regions searching for Puerto Rico were Florida, Connecticut and New Jersey.

Caffeine fiends

Wake up and smell the coffee—it’s National Coffee Day! And everyone is after the free java, with searches like, “Is Starbucks doing anything for National Coffee Day?” “Who gives free coffee on National Coffee Day?” and “What is National Coffee Day at Dunkin Donuts?” Cold brew coffee, butter coffee, and Irish coffee (for those starting early…) are the most searched types of coffee this week.

RIP Hef

Hugh Hefner passed away this week at the age of 91. Upon hearing the news, people searched to find out more about Hefner’s fortune and infamous love life: “How much was Hugh Hefner worth?” “Who gets Hugh Hefner’s money?” and “Who was Hugh Hefner married to?” Hefner will be buried next to Marilyn Monroe, Playboy’s first cover girl (search interest in Monroe went up 570% this week as well).

But will they assemble the meatballs, too?

This week, two of the top searched questions about IKEA were: “How to build IKEA Tarva nightstand” and “How to remove IKEA drawer front.” Well, now you can get some help with that. This week, IKEA closed a deal to buy the online errand company TaskRabbit so that the dreaded phrase “assembly required” will become slightly less scary. Those who are keen on IKEA are searching the most for dressers, desks, rugs, kitchen cabinets and beds.

Riding in style

Ford is getting revved up with its new F-450 Super Duty Limited truck, which can cost as much as $100,000 and tows 15 tons … talk about luxury. Search interest for the new truck went into overdrive—“Ford Truck” was searched 2000% more than “Ford SUV.” People are doing their due diligence on the Super Duty, searching “Where is the F-250 Super Duty made?” “What is the MPG of a Ford Super Duty Diesel?” and “What roof bars fit a Ford Super Duty?”

The ROI for Security Training

3 months 2 weeks ago

Editorial note: I originally wrote this post for the ASPE blog.  You can check out the original here, at their site.  While you’re there, check out their catalog of online and in-person training courses. When it comes to IT’s relationship with “the business,” the two tend to experience a healthy tension over budget.  At the […]

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Erik Dietrich