Google’s latest scheme for funding the Web is a voluntary contribution of $1-3 a month that removes the advertising on selected websites. It’s called Google Contributor and for the time being it’s an invite-only experiment — if you want to give it a try then you can put your name down to be on the waiting list, but it’s not clear exactly how widely the trial will expand or when you can expect to be included.
Ten content providers have signed up for the Contributor scheme, including The Onion, Imgur, Urban Dictionary and Mashable. When you visit a participating website as a Contributor you will see blank spaces or a “thank you” message in blocks where the advertising would usually be shown. It may seem a strange move by Google — a company heavily reliant on advertising revenues — but it would still be making money under the new system.
“Today’s Internet is mostly funded by advertising. But what if there were a way to directly support the people who create the sites you visit each day?” says Google on the Contributor site. “When you visit a participating website, part of your contribution goes to the creators of that site. As a reminder of your support, you’ll see a thank you message — often accompanied by a pixel pattern — where you might normally see an ad.”
Other than the splash page promoting the new system there’s been no official announcement from Google regarding Contributor, so we don’t know the thinking behind it, how long it will last, or whether it’s a payment option for the Web that’s seriously being considered. Nevertheless it’s an interesting idea coming at a time when Internet funding and infrastructure is under so much scrutiny.
Google spokeswoman Andrea Faville confirmed to CNET that Google will take the same cut from Contributor that it currently takes from displaying advertisements on the same sites. One key benefit for users is improved privacy: Faville also said that those who signed up for Contributor would not be tracked across the Web in order to personalize ads. If you’re tired of seeing smartphone adverts every time you search for a new mobile on Amazon, Contributor could be the answer.