“Today’s Internet is mostly funded by advertising. But what if there were a way to directly support the people who create the sites you visit each day?” That is the question Google is asking for a test run of its new service called Contributor that offers ad-free browsing.
Under the new program, users can pay $1 to $3 a month and instead of ads, they see thank you notes on the websites they visit. The program’s test run includes 10 Web publishers at the moment. They include Imgur, The Onion, Mashable and others. If you want to sign up for the service, you can do so through a waiting list form here. Keep in mind only U.S. customers are the target of the test run of Contributor.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the new program is that the data of participating users will not be used for targeted ads. In a world where your online data has become a product for marketers, this is a very attractive proposition. Basically, users of the Google Contributor would be paying for privacy in addition to the privilege of no ads.
Google Contributor is interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, advertisers are expected to spend more than $144 billion on online ads this year and 32.4% of that goes straight to Google. Their decision to pilot a service that could revolutionize the market is a bold one. Secondly, the mass adoption of such a service could lead to an increase in the quality of content on the internet.
Even powerhouses like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have struggled to monetize their online presence and that is partly due to the rise of click-bait journalism from the likes of BuzzFeed and others. As a result, many have put up pay-walls while others have been accused of sensationalism to get more page views and hence, traffic and ad revenue. Contributor could mean an end or at least a reduction to the decline in quality.
For publishers, nothing changes. Andrea Faville, a Google spokeswomen said, “In terms of the rates, the amount that goes to the publishers is essentially the market rate for ad space on their site (in the ad auction). So the amounts going to publishers wouldn’t really be affected, although the higher the amount in a person’s Contributor account, the more times they would see the thank-you messages versus ads.”
While this is an experiment at the moment, the results could be significant. More and more users are turning to Ad-Blockers and other plugins and tools to get rid of ads. Contributor could provide an interesting way for users to support their favorite websites while allowing advertisers to get a way to monetize their sites without ads.