Google Contributor allows users to pay a nominal fee to support their favourite sites, while removing ads
Google has begun testing a service that allows users to pay a nominal sum in exchange for the removal of advertisements from participating sites.
Google Contributor is intended to address user annoyance over pervasive advertising, and also concerns over ad tracking, since participating sites won’t track user behaviour, the company said.
At the moment, the beta-test service, which is available by invitation only, is running on ten publishing sites, including Mashable, WikiHow, Urban Dictionary and The Onion – sites chosen for their relatively small user base, except for Mashable, which has about 40 million unique visitors per month.
Contributors choose to pay $1 (63 pence), $2 or $3 per month, and in exchange they will see a “thank you” message from the publisher in place of adverts that would previously have been served through Google’s AdSense network. On mobile sites, ads may disappear altogether.
Contributions will only go to sites that the user visits and not all participating sites, with Google taking a small cut, making the service a way for users to help support sites they visit frequently.
For publishers, Google is pitching the service as another way of earning an income from their user base. Contributions are made through a user’s Google account, and only US sites are taking part in testing the programme.
Google said the programme is currently experimental and could change significantly.
Google earlier this year launched a contribution system allowing users to support YouTube video creators. “Fan Funding” allows viewers to donate between $1 and $500 to a chosen YouTube channel.
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