Google has today launched a new platform that aims to reinvent how content creators on the Internet make money. It’s called Contributor, and it involves readers committing to a certain monthly payment of $1-3, which will in turn give visitors an ad-free browsing experience on some sites. This could potentially be a full-blown alternative to Google’s AdSense, giving publications like this one and others a new form of monetization.
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The service rolls out starting today, and Google says that it has 10 launch partners, including names you probably recognize such as Urban Dictionary, The Onion, Science Daily, wikiHow, Mashable, and Imgur. Users who have obtained an invite to the service will have access to a dashboard that shows the list of websites that are currently participating in Contributor, and will be given the option of contributing $1, $2, or $3 per month.
Those participating in the service will be able to browse those sites as normal, but AdSense blocks will be replaced by a pixel-pattern image that offers a quick “thank you” for being a contributor. On mobile, ads might disappear completely, replaced by a simple line of text. This contribution only happens when you actually visit websites, so the cut of your monthly contribution level will get split up depending on which sites you visit most often.
For the websites that are on the receiving end of the contributions, money is processed through the typical AdSense dashboard and—of course—this is where Google takes its cut. This will give publishers an alternative to its straight AdSense revenue, and it’s in Google’s interest for this service to mean more money overall for content creators. This experiment definitely moves web content in the direction of a Spotify/Netflix model in that subscribers pay a simple monthly fee for “all-you-can-eat” content.
If you want to get on board with Contributor (as a reader), Google is taking requests for invitations right now on its website. Publishers who are interested in taking part in this experiment are also encouraged to inquire by sending an email to email@example.com.