Google launched a new service today that’s aimed at allowing super-fans to support their favorite site while ditching distracting ads. Called “Contributor,” it allows people to crowd-fund publishers with a monthly contribution.
Contributors pay between $1-to-3 a month for the ability to remove ads from their favorite sites, and replace them with a “thank you” message. Much of that subscription goes to the site itself, which should help offset the loss in ad revenue, though Google unsurprisingly takes a cut. The service is rolling out with only 10 partners, including Imgur, The Onion and Mashable.
This isn’t a completely unheard-of model: sites like Ars Technica already offer subscriptions that allow users to remove ads for an annual fee. But this service could provide smaller publishers that rely on Google AdSense an easy way to connect with their fans without requiring them to build a back-end solution for running subscriptions.
Contributor could be a win for both Google and publishers. One of the most popular browser extensions is Adblock Plus, a service that automatically cuts out advertisements from web pages people view. It’s one way for folks to ditch what they might see as an annoyance or an invasion of their privacy thanks to ad tracking, but also deprives ad networks and publishers of revenue. This contribution-based model would provide a similar service, without the negative impact on revenue.
Right now, Contributor is in an invite-only beta, to moderate the number of people who are testing it out.