Who would have thought it? Google will now let you pay to avoid seeing its ads. Through a new service called Contributor, launched last night, Internet users can opt-out of Google ads for a fee of $1 to $3 dollars a month.
Participants will see a thank you message instead of the ads on participating websites, including Mashable, ScienceDaily and The Onion.
Payments, handled through a user’s Google account, will be divided between Google and the participating sites that a user visits.
According to the Contributor website, Google’s new service is a way of funding the Web. This, you might think, is a tall order, but here’s what Google explains: "Today’s Internet is mostly funded by advertising. But what if there were a way to directly support the people who create the sites you visit each day?”
With this, Google is basically covering its back on all accounts, with some suggesting that it is just Google’s way of compensating for falling ad revenues.
Google’s Ad Revenue
However, that’s a little simplistic and Google has reacted to problems with online advertising with a range of efforts, including increasing the number of ads it produces.
That it should start experimenting with cash to block ads is a bit surprising. But makes sense as an experiment, as Google describes it. The fees participants make will offset lost ad revenue.
Another aspect worth considering is privacy. If you are not being served ads, then is your personal data also being withheld from advertisers?
Google admitted last year that it systematically scans email to produce personalized content. So, in theory, this has the potential to solve this problem.
That’s only speculation, though, and there is no way of knowing how this will work out in practice. It may be, for example, that you won’t see personalized ads on your favorite website, but that tracking will persist.
Ok, so that’s a tad cynical, but its advertising we are talking about here so there’s good reason to be cynical. Even so, Google is appealing to web users’ better side. It is asking them to pony up the money only for sites whose content they enjoy or visit most, and is trying to convince users that it is worth the cost.
The question is whether users are prepared to pay for content. Many people hate ads, but are they ready to pay to keep them off of their screens?
Also keep in mind too that there are other ad blockers out there, which you don’t have to pay for.