Google launches Contributor, a crowdfunding tool for publishers

15 Comments

[company]Google[/company] often gets criticized by publishers for taking their content without asking them first, but the web giant has probably done more to experiment with alternative monetization options for content than any other media entity. On Thursday it starts rolling out a new one called Google Contributor, which is designed to allow web users to pay sites that they visit a monthly fee, and in return see no Google ads when they visit those sites.

Google said the new feature is launching with 10 publishing partners, including Mashable, Imgur, WikiHow and Science Daily. When a user goes to the Google Contributor website (initial access is by invitation only), they see a list of the publishers that are participating in the beta version and they can choose whether they want to contribute $1, $2 or $3 a month.

The contribution — which is handled through a user’s Google account, using whatever payment method they have chosen for the service — doesn’t go to all of the participating websites, but is only triggered when that user visits a specific site (the service is working with U.S. sites only for now). That way, a Google spokesperson said that readers or users can support only the websites and publishers whose sites they visit frequently.

Google Contributor

For publishers, the contributions are handled through their existing Google advertising accounts, with the search giant taking a small cut of the proceeds. In effect, the contributions are an alternative to just relying on Google AdSense. The company said it chose partners who didn’t have too much traffic (with the exception of Mashable, which gets 40 million uniques a month) because it wanted to start small and see how much the feature would get used.

A thank you message

One of the most interesting features of the project is that after the Google Contributor payment is triggered, a user will no longer see the usual advertising from Google on the pages of the site they are visiting — instead, they will see a message from the publisher, thanking them for their contribution. And in some cases, on mobile versions of the site, ads may disappear altogether.

Contributor_example

The Google spokesperson who described the project said Contributor was another example of the company’s attempts to help web publishers and content companies monetize their readership more easily, along with similar experiments like Google Consumer Surveys, which allows websites to require that readers fill out a survey before they get access to content.

Earlier this year, Google also launched a contribution system for YouTube video creators called “Fan Funding,” which allows viewers to donate anywhere from $1 to $500 to the channel of their choice.

Could Google Contributor become a realistic alternative to a paywall for large news sites or even individual content creators? That remains to be seen, but Google deserves some credit for continuing to experiment with different forms of monetization. Some may see it as yet another attempt by the web giant to lock them into its platform, but others will likely be willing to try just about anything to find a way of generating income from their content.

15 Comments

Bob Foster

I can’t see how this could ever be popular. In the spotify case, users get something more than ad-free experience, they get access to more quality (kbps), features (offline), and more content directly (song level access).

Here, if websites offers some premium content only to subscribers this could work, like a all-sites-pass, like some newspapper require subscription to read all content, this could be much more powerful by allowing users to one economic fee subscription for all sites!

14 years ago, before adsense, I dreamed of this but also giving Internet providers the option to pay directly a little like $1 to contributor-service to offer premium-internet-pass to users, once a ISP offers for the same price all-access to popular premium content enabled sites, all ISPs should follow. This should work if a bunch of sites with exclusive content not found anywere else participate.

I do not say sites should block all content to non-subscribers but only a section or some premium articles or access, like exclusive reports, access to downloads, hi res versions of wall pappers or videos, hard-to-find things, more storage, premium support, premium profiles or premium visibility in dating sites or classifieds/sales listings, faster downloads on download services now asking for a fee, ad free blog/hosting, etc…

x

They’re several existing crowsfunding platforms, and I boycott Google tools whenever I can, so you’d better use another one…

Danny

If Google wants to change the undercutting of the creative class ( and soon the rest of the middle class ) they should “not be evil” and just admit it is happening formally and publicly…. and o’l Larry Page shouldn’t complain that Jaron Lanier is “controversial” lol. The product is stupid

inquiblog

I can’t see how this could ever be popular. In the spotify case, users get something more than ad-free experience, they get access to more quality (kbps), features (offline), and more content directly (song level access).

Here, if websites offers some premium content only to subscribers this could work, like a all-sites-pass, like some newspapper require subscription to read all content, this could be much more powerful by allowing users to one economic fee subscription for all sites!

14 years ago, before adsense, I dreamed of this but also giving Internet providers the option to pay directly a little like $1 to contributor-service to offer premium-internet-pass to users, once a ISP offers for the same price all-access to popular premium content enabled sites, all ISPs should follow. This should work if a bunch of sites with exclusive content not found anywere else participate.

I do not say sites should block all content to non-subscribers but only a section or some premium articles or access, like exclusive reports, access to downloads, hi res versions of wall pappers or videos, hard-to-find things, more storage, premium support, premium profiles or premium visibility in dating sites or classifieds/sales listings, faster downloads on download services now asking for a fee, ad free blog/hosting, etc…

OnTheWebNobodyKnowsYourAHuman

“but the web giant has probably done more to experiment with alternative monetization options for content than any other media entity” Care to back that assertion in your opening paragraph up? #EditorialAsleepAtTheWheel

Productivity Port

This is interesting. As a publisher, I might prefer the option to turn off the “thank you” message and let the user have a fuller view. Of course, this would be dependent on design.

Gaiapunk

I wouldn’t give Google too much credit, honestly they just copied ideas from Flattr, but I’m all up for copying so I’m not complaining.

Anonymous

A bit more of a viable method than the website just asking for donations and not serving any ads at all, since they at least get income from the advertisements if nobody donates.

However I think donation models are still viable if your website is something the people want.

pomf.se is maintained entirely through donations alone and is a rather large file host (is even one of the best ranked search terms for “file hosting”)

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