What is Google Contributor?
Google Contributor is (or perhaps ‘was’ is a more fitting word) a Google-run programme launched in the United States in 2015 that allowed users in the Google Network of content sites to view websites administered, sorted, and maintained by Google, free of any ads. The small fee paid in monthly instalments would be used to directly fund the websites you frequently visited through Google’s ad platform; these sites would then display a ‘Thank You’ message by default, instead of an ad, allowing you to enjoy an ad-free browsing experience.
Where is it now?
Reactions to Google Contributor were initially positive, and strong enough to convince Google that it was a good idea to announce the expansion of the service into the United Kingdom in early 2016. The thinking behind this move was most likely that Google saw Contributor as an effective way to hit back against ad blocker. However, while a waiting list was set up, the service never actually became available in the UK. Indeed, in the December of 2016, Google announced that the service would be replaced by younger, more advanced technology in January 2017. Today, the Google Contributor website now simply redirects visitors to to a generic 404 page.
No replacement for Google Contributor has yet been disclosed by Google, and what the company now has up its sleeve remains a mystery.
This type of programme was not unique to the Google universe, however. An example of a similar set-up may be found in YouTube Red – a paid subscription service offered by YouTube to internet users in the United States.. This channel provides advertising-free streaming of videos hosted by the service, offline and background playback of videos on mobile devices, access to new original content, and access to advertising-free music streaming. While it is not yet available in the UK, it bears a striking resemblance to the programming behind Google Contributor.
An Internet without Adverts?
Regardless of whether or not Contributor makes a come-back in any form, none of these pay-to-remove-ad schemes should cause any real concern to advertisers in general. At the end of the day, ads are still an absolute necessity in many of our day-to-day lives, and a world in which they no longer exist would be an extremely frustrating and inconvenient one.
For example, how exasperating would it be to find yourself in the midst of a plumbing crisis, with water streaming into your basement, reaching for your phone to search for plumbers in the vicinity, and instead of getting a list of 24 Hour Service Emergency Plumbers, receiving absolutely no information or suggestions? We would find our options extremely limited as much of the daily information we need, and frequently access, is found in ads. Additionally, promotions and discounts are often offered via ads, helping us all to secure the best possible deals and save money. For instance, when visiting an online retailer and placing a product in our online baskets, many of us bank on being offered a better deal on checkout via a re-marketing ad. Removing options like these would not be well received by many people…
While change is inevitable and advertisers will eventually need to adapt to new developments and different contexts, there will always be a demand to deliver ads to those who need them the most.
“Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad.” – Howard Luck Gossage.
Who knows what the future holds? We might even see Google taking a note from Spotify and adopting their form of ad-serving…