Google Offers Ad-Free Web Subscription Services
Known as Contributor by Google, the program is currently by invitation only, so users who want to take part need to request a spot on a waitlist to get an invitation.
Google is framing this as “an experiment in additional ways to fund the web” but it is apparently targeted toward people who are so eager to read content and access websites without the distraction of Google ads that they’re willing to pay for the power to do just that.
Users can choose the amount they pay each month (from $1 to $3) part of which will go to the website(s) they visit. They will then see a “thank you” message in the space where a Google ad would normally appear. Right now, the program is in a sort of soft launch phase and only involves a handful of publishers such as The Onion and Mashable.
On the surface, this move does seem to be a bit surprising, in a “don’t bite the hand that feeds you” sort of way, since Google makes significant money from its online advertising business. Some industry analysts speculated that perhaps these subscribers will eventually become like a premium category of consumers, and Google will charge an extra fee for special access to (or insights about) them. That remains to be seen, but for now it seems to offer a way for Google to profit in some way from web content that may or may not have ads, collecting money either from advertisers or subscribers.
Most industry watchers doubt that this will take the place of online advertising or even have a negative impact on Google’s ad program in a major way. For now, there doesn’t seem to be any need for marketers to make any changes to their current approach to online ads.
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