Google Contributor resurfaces as a subscription management platform

Google just relaunched Google Contributor as a service for managing “ad removal passes” on behalf of websites that users have opted-in to supporting. The ad removal passes places a fixed cost per page load at participating websites instead of the old model where users would automatically compete to buy-out the ad spaces in the regular ad auction.

After the old Google Contributor shut down in , the Google Contributor website just read “We’re launching a new and improved Contributor in early 2017!”. It’s now six months later and mid-2017, but Google Contributor is now back and have taken on a very different form.

Google Contributor was a scheme where users could pay a monthly subscription fee that was used to outbid the cheapest/worst ads. The fee would be divided out among the websites the subscriber frequented and would hide an estimated 20–40 % of ads served by Google in a month.

The new Contributor service is only open for participating websites. Users must now opt-in to purchase an “ad removal pass” per website rather than having the Contributor service work on every website that served advertisement by Google.

Subscribers no longer pay a monthly subscription fee that’s divided out among the websites they visit automatically. Instead, they fill up their account with funds with are used to pay participating websites per unique page load instead. Users are told the price per page-load when they sign up for an “ad removal pass” on a specific website.

Websites are free to set whatever cost they want per page, but Google seem to be suggesting 0,02 USD per page. Google will handle subscription, charges, and ad removals automatically for the website through Google’s ad platform.

It is unclear if participating websites must commit to only display ads from Google. This seems to be the only way the new Contributor service could work as subscribers will expect all ads to be removed.

In the old Contributor program, websites didn’t have to make such commitments to Google as the program only worked on ads served by Google.

Google seems to position Contributor as a complimentary service to the recently announced bad-ads blocker that the company is working on adding to their Chrome web browser.

The new Contributor is in my opinion less interesting than the old automated Contributor service. Users are unlikely to subscribe to many websites and they’ll not get all that much out of their subscription. Under the old subscription scheme, you’d notice pretty much right away that ads where disappearing (or were replaced with pictures of cats in “meow mode.”)

The old Google Contributor was a solution to fix a systemic problem with bad ads on the web. The new Contributor is a far less ambitious subscription management service for large websites that want to offer a pay-per-page solution.

The only thing I find mildly interesting is the potential that Google Contributor’s ad removal passes have to slim down websites enough until the price per page load decreases compared to a non-subscribing user in terms of mobile data fees. This, however, is more a reflection of the failure of websites to optimize (or even care about the cost of data) for their visitors on mobile devices.

On a more positive note, Contributor has finally expanded beyond the United States and is now also available in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Germany. If you live outside these regions and may be interested in alternatives that work more like the old Contributor program, check out Brave Payments or the re-imagined Flattr micro-payment service.