Buying online subscriptions is a bit of a pain. You try to set a username but it’s already taken, the password needs one uppercase letter and one special symbol, and you need to fill out your credit card details on every website—which is troubling from a security standpoint—but also just inconvenient. If you happen to forget your password, you have to reset it, but hey, your new password can’t be your old password—you get the idea. More often than not, even after buying a subscription, it just seems easier to browse around open-access websites for news instead of punching in the login details.
This is nobody’s fault: Most publishers have their own subscription and payment management system. Now, Google wants to fix this. As part of its Google News Initiative, the company wants to make it easier for users to subscribe to news and media sites, in addition to facilitating better access to subscriptions.
Subscribe with Google lets you buy a subscription, using your Google account, on participating news sites. Select the publisher offer you’d like to buy, click “Subscribe,” and you’re done. You’ll automatically be signed in to the site, and you can pay–securely and privately—with any credit card you’ve used with Google in the past. From then on, you can then use “Sign In with Google” to access the publisher’s products, but Google does the billing, keeps your payment method secure, and makes it easy for you to manage your subscriptions all in one place.
Once subscribed, users will gain access to the subscribed content across devices as long as they are signed into their Google account—no more annoying paywalls or individual logins. In addition, users will see content from their subscribed sources first when they search for something online. By centralizing payment and access in this manner, Google is making sure that buying and accessing subscriptions becomes a much more frictionless process for users than it is today.
Ultimately, publishers stand to gain from this initiative as well. First, an easier buying and access process translates to an increase in subscriptions. Second, since the user data will be managed by Google, it reduces operational overheads for publishers, who can then focus on producing content.
At the moment, Google is testing the subscription system with a limited number of publishers, but the program is expected to become available to all publishers soon. “Today’s launch is an important step toward helping news publishers develop revenue streams beyond advertising,” Jim Albrecht, Project Management Director of Subscribe with Google, said in the launch post.