Google Contributor: Pay To Block Ads - InformationWeek

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11/21/2014
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Google Contributor: Pay To Block Ads

Google launched a new service that blocks ads on some websites in exchange for a nominal monthly subscription.

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Google launched a new service on Thursday that lets users pay to browse certain websites devoid of distracting ads -- and the data tracking that often supports them.

Google Contributor is invite-only and uses a crowdfunding-based model in which users pledge $1, $2, or $3 per month to support the program's partner websites. In exchange, Google will block the ads it serves to them.

But unlike traditional ad blockers, Google's Contributor doesn't block revenue to the websites. While it takes a small cut of your monthly fee, it divides the rest among the partner websites you visit -- giving you a cleaner browsing experience while still supporting your favorite websites.

Ten publishers have signed on with Google Contributor at launch, including Mashable, The Onion, Urban Dictionary, WikiHow, ScienceDaily, and Imagur. When subscribers visit these websites, they'll see a pixelated box where an ad would have appeared with a thank-you note that reads, "Thank you for being a Contributor."

[Verizon knows more about your online browsing habits than you think. Read Verizon Wireless Embroiled In Tracking Controversy.]

Contributor works on all current versions of major browsers as well as mobile apps. Advertisers won't be charged for the ads that it blocks, a company spokesperson said.

While Google's business model is almost entirely based on ad revenue -- in Q3 ads accounted for 89% of its $16.5 billion -- the online ad industry isn't as strong as it once was, according to Rebecca Lieb, an analyst with Altimeter Group.

"Clearly, publisher sites are struggling to monetize with advertising, as banner ad rates become increasingly commoditized and fall," she said in an email. "Consumers interact with ads less too, calling their effectiveness very much into question."

Whether or not Google's new approach will succeed depends on a few factors. The first, Lieb said, is whether consumers will participate at scale. While users complain about online advertising and the data ads collect, will they actually be willing to trade a nominal monthly fee for an improved experience?

The second obstacle involves the number and type of partner websites that sign on, said Rob Shavell, CEO of online privacy company Abine.

"The main roadblock for micropayments to replace ads is really around getting so many websites to sign up for the system that would pay them for users who don't want to see ads," Shavell said in an email. "It is likely on browser providers like Google, Mozilla, and Microsoft, which have the reach to make anything in micropayments a reality."

This isn't the first time Google has given consumers a choice in how their attention is monetized. In 2012, the company launched Screenwise, a program that users could opt into that tracks the sites they visited and how they used them. In exchange, Google gave participants a $5 Amazon gift card for installing the extension, and another $5 gift card for every three months they stayed in the Screenwise program.

Most recently, Google launched a new YouTube service called Music Key, which lets you stream music ad-free for $8 per month.

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Kristin Burnham currently serves as InformationWeek.com's Senior Editor, covering social media, social business, IT leadership and IT careers. Prior to joining InformationWeek in July 2013, she served in a number of roles at CIO magazine and CIO.com, most recently as senior ... View Full Bio

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ads google
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ads google,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/5/2014 | 5:12:01 AM
ads google
your given good information on the ads thank for sharing this information
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
12/2/2014 | 5:28:37 AM
Re: In simple words
@Technocrati ...Not to mention that there are excellent aggregators of out there that are more efficient in finding compelling content than you would be on your own -- and are better able to source it.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
12/2/2014 | 5:26:56 AM
Re: In simple words
In this world of copycat journalism and journalism by clickbait lists, there's really very little out there I'd be willing to pay for.


Plus, I'm a writer.  I can write my own entertainment.  ;)
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
11/30/2014 | 5:43:51 PM
Re: Weigh in
@Stratustician, I agree about ads, but I think what's more alarming is how ads and cookies track you and your data across the web. That might be more of a driver to support something like this.
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
11/28/2014 | 7:33:35 PM
Re: Hello & Welcome
@askqn I am sure they are, but they donít expect us to be (aware).
asksqn
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asksqn,
User Rank: Ninja
11/28/2014 | 5:26:36 PM
Hello & Welcome
Evidently, Google is unaware of the many ad blocker extensions for its browser that are FREE of charge. 
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
11/28/2014 | 4:46:09 PM
Re: In simple words

@Brian.Dean   Interesting.  I am not familiar with the valuing of Web Ads, so what you mention brings an interesting angle to the entire question.   Given this I agree, high value traffic would have little interest in Google's service.

Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
11/28/2014 | 2:37:32 PM
Re: Silliness
@Joe, I think you have nailed it on the head. It would be much easier to allow for a data provider to charge extra for access to non-ad-enabled websites. Next, the provider could take their share, giving the remainder to Google, followed by, Google taking its share and forwarding the remainder to publishers.
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
11/28/2014 | 2:34:09 PM
Re: Where are we headed?
I agree that an excessive amount of ads can cause all kinds of problems for the user. However, ads are a vital component that enables modern economies, through economies of scale and diversity of products/services. It's one of those areas that deal with a trade-off.
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
11/28/2014 | 2:28:55 PM
Re: In simple words
The website end is equally interesting as different ads have different levels of ROI. For instance, an ad for a flashlight might have a 1 cent value on average but an ad for a new car might have a $100 value. Websites that have high value traffic might never signup for Google's service.
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