If you feel like there’s a trend towards subscriptions these days, you may be right. From Netflix to Spotify, online media providers rely on the subscription model to monetize digital content while providing a relatively ad-free environment. The popularity of these services proves that consumers are willing to pay for a seamless experience, but would this extend to the world of web ads? Google seems to think so.

The tech giant has revealed a similar option they call Contributor, which enables users to get rid of ads found on participating websites for a set monthly fee. This only applies to websites that are part of their AdWords service but as these sites rank in the millions all over the world, this could potentially be a game changing feature.

Funding the Internet

Google thinks of Contributor as another way to fund the Internet. The truth is that advertising is still the main source of funds for the creation of digital and online content despite the emergence of all sorts of membership schemes and paywalls.

Think of an Internet where ubiquitous banner ads are just another faint memory. This is what Contributor participants can look forward to. They can set the amount they wish to pay each month from US$1 to $3, depending on how much support they want to give to the member websites that they frequent.

The exact amount that reaches the websites hasn’t been revealed yet, but many popular media outlets have already expressed interest. Sites like The Onion, Imgur and Mashable, known for their wide audience and widely-shared content, are some of the early partners that have signed on to the service.

Contributor is initially offered on a trial basis and the openness of the program to include other partners will largely depend on the success of the initial adopters. For those who want to experience what a comparatively ad-free internet will look like, you can sign up on the waiting list or wait for an invitation to arrive.

32 Comments
  1. That’s stupid. Most of the time I visit a site maybe once, following a search result or because someone shared it on a social networking site. I’m not going to pay to read or view something that looks interesting, I’d rather just have the ads, which I don’t look at anyway.

    Other sites that I do visit more frequently are not worth paying for, so they would lose a lot of users. And I think there’d be someone out there who will just make a similar site that will still be free.

    There are already ways for loyal fans to pay their favourite content producers, such as Patreon.

  2. I’d rather just purchase something from the respective site I want to support and continue to use adblock since it’s 99% effective. I’m sure this sentiment is shared by a tonne of other people out there, there isn’t really any sort of enticing incentive to get people to switch when the current is fine.

    • Very mercenary indeed! I think I’ll stick with Adblock. I wonder what would happen if this service really took off? Would websites work in cahoots with Google, stuffing adverts everywhere so you have no choice but to use a paid-for service?

  3. That is actually the equivalent of extortion! Not as bad as extortion, but the same thing ethically. And the reason is that on one hand Google fills up with ads the Internet – understandable and acceptable, they’ve got to make a living and be able to fund whatever they offer us – and on the other hand they say “pay us to remove all our crap”?

    Again, I’ve got nothing against Google OR advertising (strange as that may seem), but I _do_ find idiotic the “pay us to not do what we do” logic behind this.

    • Well, they probably saw how many people complain about ads, and they just want to offer people the possibility to get what they want – for a fee. Like the VIP treatment, I would guess. Ad-Block works just fine for me.

  4. This actually seems really interesting. I mean, this kind of stuff is the future of the internet and internet money.

    I’m sure this will be widely used by people that use adblocker now but feel bad about it, I guess. haha 🙂
    I might use this. But also, I’m worried about the amount of money that will go to google. I don’t trust ’em.

  5. This is akin to “we won’t burn down your shop if we pay you money”- they are asking us to pay for them to not to something that they would do if we didn’t pay. It doesn’t make a difference anyway- those that really don’t like ads to the point that they simply want them gone have already discovered Adblock, and those that don’t mind have been “trained” to skip pass the ads.

  6. What an interesting proposition. Personally, I do not expect nor do I aspire that all the web sites end up using this model. It would be frankly devastating if all websites asked money to access their content. The web is fine as it is with the free model, but it is also true that a significant number of visitors to the sites are recurrent. A number of these people who may have a personal link to the website may welcome a way of supporting directly.

    A curious thing would be the websites where a person can represent more than $1- $3 in advertising revenue per month. I speak of sites with good paying adwords terms.

  7. Honestly, the way the internet should be structured is as a utility. We need to stop private ISPs from controlling the market so that the revenue structure can change. People could be paying a flat access fee every month, instead of incredibly high rates from private ISPs, which would allow companies to move away from ads and head into a subscription based platform.

    The real question is if this subscription platform should be structured per website or affiliate you visit, or if it should be added onto the flat access fee and then distributed by your ISP based on your personal traffic. None of this really matters at the moment though, because until we move away from privatization and head into public domain, these type of changes really cant take place.

    • ISPs and other private parties already have too much of a stranglehold on legislation to give up that measure of control over the internet. Free use of the internet simply doesn’t have the economic clout to contest the corporate lobbyists. The only real possibility is to have voters make it clear what we want. Unfortunately, it’s difficult enough to get people to turn out to vote at all on their literal civil rights, much less clamour about their rights on the internet.

  8. I think it will be effective if the person who post is very popular or have inference in his market For example some one like Hedio Kojima Director of MGS video game.

  9. Interesting idea, to say the least, but I don’t think it’ll succeed. There are already ways to hide ads with AdBlocker, Disconnect, extensions like that. People who understand the issue are already donating to the sites they want to, like Wikipedia. I’d rather look at ads, to be honest.

    • The vast majority of web users aren’t saavy enough to understand extensions and addons can perform this duty for free. If they were, they wouldn’t be the ones unknowingly running 30 irrelevant extensions that highlight coupon deals and whatnot.

      There’s a market for it, and that market is quite large.

      • The vast majority of web users are the reason most websites are free.
        I would rather watch a 30 second ad and support my favorite Youtuber through advertising(as an example) rather than pay extra every month, when if I have a problem with ads, I can use AdBlock and have the same effect.

  10. No, I think that this is just plain stupid. I would rather not pay and have ads, and support the website like that, rather than pay and not see ads. I mean, adblock is a free alternative to this.

    The whole idea of ‘Contributor’ is poorly thought out. I don’t want to have a subscription for every website I visit just so that I can not see ads, when I can just download AdBlock and have the same effect.

  11. I’m all for anything that means less advertising and helping out content creators. However, I’m curious as to how much money the actual content creators will receive. Google stands to make a heck of a lot of money from this, hence why they’re doing it.

    Well, for now I’ll just stick with using the ad-block plugin and blocking all known ad websites in my computer’s hosts file.

  12. This is going to be a great service for the people who are technologically inept. Many commenters have already pointed out that there are a variety of addons and plugins that can perform the same duties as this service, but users like that are among the few.

    For every person running Adblock, there are dozens that run a completely stock installation of Internet Explorer. Think about it – parents, grandparents, the lazy, there are so many potential customers for an ad blocking service.

  13. People seem to dislike this idea. I’m happy to keep using AdBlock, but isn’t it akin to what sites like YouTube and TwitchTV do? YouTube now has paid channels were if you pay a certain amount per month or something, you don’t get ads in your videos. TwitchTV also has a subscription feature, where you don’t get ads during livestreams, plus a couple other little benefits.

    Are banner ads that bad, anyway? I remember seeing them. Perhaps they got annoying now and then, but it’s not as though my ability to use websites was hampered. Except ads that make sounds. Those are intensely unpleasant.

  14. I am so excited for this! Although, I must say I do use a pop up blocker on my browser and it helps also with all of those unwanted ads and articles! I have been waiting for Google to come out with something great like this though because I know they have the capability of it and it would raise their popularity a lot.

  15. I’m super excited about the term “contributor” but to avoid over reacting to the news I really need to know more about the service. Being a contributor might be quite similar to being an investor. On the other hand, it might be totally different.

  16. Its about time. They know anyone who wants to just uses an Adblocker anyway, so why not offer it?

    Banner ads and pop ups have always been a pain in the side. Does anyone remember the days when spyware was an actual problem? Thankfully we got away from that. At least I did. My mothers computer on the other hand? Wooooosh. It is nothing but ads. Gross.

  17. Now this just doesn’t make sense. Google. Being one of the top advertising services, to offer a sale of $100 of income to a blogger, for $3?

    Is google sure about this? I mean anybody can download AdBlock, but to pay $3 a month for a potential $10 that can be gained just doesn’t make sense… I guess it could improve the viewer’s experience whilst not worrying about adblock, which customer satisfaction is always the key part in any business. But still, this just doesn’t make sense why Google would do this?

  18. This is a little far fetched if you ask me, but perfectly easy for Google to implement – so why not offer it.
    I wonder if this is just another way for the big G to get a larger slice of the pie!

  19. I don’t really see the reason for Google implementing this feature. If people really wanted to get rid of ads they could get any number of free extensions that were already available in the Google Store. I don’t really get why anyone would purchase this “Contributor” option at all. Seems like a waste for something you could get for free.

    I’m really interested to see how this will play out.

  20. Unfortunately there are already plenty of free extensions which do the job, like Adblock. That said, they are available on Google Chrome’s store. Unless Google removes them I don’t see any way people would pay for this service.

  21. No one have heard of AdBlock? I would never pay just to get rid of ads, that’s stupid, even if AdBlock didn’t exist, I still wouldn’t pay. If the ads are extremely annoying, to the point where there are more ads than the content you want, I would just go somewhere else. That’s the good thing about the internet, a million of things for one.

    • For the most part, yeah. The only reason Netflix’s subscription model works is because there is no alternative. Sure, you can watch some films on YouTube or some other sites, but often at a lower quality, or having to deal with shady sites or annoying Bittorrents, which not everybody can be bothered with.

      If Netflix would give the choice of a free service, but films will be interrupted with ads, or a paid ad-free service, a lot of people will cancel their current subscription and just endure the ads, which, to be fair, are still far less than ads on tv, so it’s not that bad anyway.

      I’ll browse with ads on every day, no prob, but if I had to pay just to read one article I happen to be interested in, then they’ve lost me.

  22. I prefer to stay the way I am now using the internet. I don’t really have a problem with the ads on websites. I’d say that I sometimes find YouTube video ads annoying, but I don’t mind them most of the time as they can be skipped in 5 seconds and they provide revenue to the uploader. Also, many sites have designed their sites creatively in a way that the ads don’t annoy the user.

  23. I really just don’t thing this scheme would work, mainly because of a little thing called AdBlock. If you haven’t use this browser addon yet, it is by far the most effective at eliminating ads in the form of banners, popups, and even the video ones on youtube. But the most damning thing about it is that it’s free. So Google can’t compete unless they take down the browser addon, and you can bet that a good portion of the online community will be in an uproar even more than when SOPA hit. It’s such a ubiquitous addon that most people put it in right after they install their browser. Kind of like downloading firefox or chrome on IE.

    • Yes, Google is way late to the party. AdBlock has been here for a while and it’s doing the job for the most part. Google implementing this would just makes us decide which ad block we would like to use and I, frankly wouldn’t change anytime soon.

  24. Anything that is ad-free, I can support. After continuous internet browsing both at home and (sometimes at work), I am littered with disgusted by ads. They are everywhere, and I cannot wait for Google to implement this. Will definitely get behind this anti-add movement.

  25. Many internet users block ads these days. Though a number of sites are fighting back by blocking content if you have ad block enabled, since ad networks are losing some money because fewer people view ads, they had to start thinking of ways they could make more money even without ads.

    The contributor programs while they may appear to be great for net users are actually good also for the sites that would have lost money if these people had been blocking ads.

    Nonetheless I believe text link ads will make a comeback. No one can block those.

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