Google is taking aim at Adblock users with a conscience. Or, the people who are frustrated over auto-refreshes, popovers, popunders, interstitials and the rage-inducing autoplaying video ads. Some sites are damn near broken with the amount ads and refreshes being served up.

Contributor by Google is borrowing from the crowdfunding playbook in a new revenue initiative. Namely, the option to monetize users that otherwise wouldn’t be clicking or even seeing the ads anyways. It’s a smart move by the search powerhouse, that made $15 billion in ad revenue just last quarter. Google knows there’s a segment they aren’t monetizing, so Contributor is a logical step.

Pay For Privacy?

Since the Edward Snowden leaks, the web has been buzzing with sheer amount of data tracking employed by commercial companies and the government. If you think the NSA spies on you, wait until you figure out what Amazon knows about you.

In what could be a mistake, Google is implying that tracking by sites would cease for those that contribute to the network. Great feature, but I’m not sure trumpeting it while asking for money is the best idea.

Contributor Stuck in Beta

For now, you cannot even sign up to be a contributor. You get shoved on a waitlist. That’s a first – line up to donate. As for joining the as a publisher, the network is closed off for now, with 10 big publishers signed on for the beta. Imgur, The Onion, Mashable and Urban Dictionary are all signed up.

Those of you who have early access, can donate $1-$3 to start browsing these sites ad free. In areas for the ads, you will see a gray pixelated area or a custom thank you message from the site.

Publisher Friendly?

A chief purpose behind Contributor is the everyday user. Take Mashable for example. Outside of CPM ads, monetizing a regular user is essentially impossible via normal advertising. After a time, they become ad blind, unless the Hunger Games ad flies in and hijacks their screen.

So, the payment to Google makes sense for those. Is it a way to go ad-free? Absolutely not. $1-$3 per month distributed throughout a network devalues a user quick. Plus, Google takes their cut. Estimates of their cut is somewhere in the percentage they take off Adsense.

Is There a Better Way?

News sites depends on revenue. People that use adblock, for the most part, use it to cut down extremely intrusive ads. To me, there needs to be a combination of what Contributor is doing plus a best practices for advertising. No one can begrudge a company for trying to turn a profit. Without advertising, you wouldn’t be able to browse Mashable or The Onion – two of the most popular properties on the web.

What publishers can do is make a conscious decision to put the user on the same foot as revenue. Quit the rapid refreshes, push-down ads and autoplay videos. If we, as publishers, meet the consumer(visitor) halfway, we might be surprised at what they are willing to accept or even contribute to consume the best content.


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