Crowdfunding, tip jars, donations, Google Contributor: With so many ways to toss a few bucks into a tip jar, why not your favorite websites?
Part subscription, part gratuity, Google is now testing a program called Google Contributor, where users can pay $1 to $3 per month. Each time a user visits a particular website, a portion of that amount is paid to the site itself.
“When you visit a participating website, part of your contribution goes to the creators of that site,” Google’s Contributor site says. “As a reminder of your support, you’ll see a thank you message - often accompanied by a pixel pattern - where you might normally see an ad.”
A number of sites—imgur, Science Daily, Mashable, and The Onion—have all signed up as early partners for the service. Other sites can apparently apply as well, through a waitlist application that Google has placed on its site.
There’s no indication that the sites themselves will deny access to those who don’t participate in Contributor. And there’s every reason to believe that every site in existence wouldn’t want to persuade their readers to pay up a few bucks per month. Online ad metrics are difficult to quantify, but this recent leaderboard of advertising zones places the top ad at just $2.90 per 1,000 impressions, or views. Chances are that the most dedicated readers aren’t visiting a site 1,000 times per month—although if enough sites sign on, your Contributor dollars may be sliced up tens or hundreds of ways.
It’s also not clear whether or not paying through Contributor will eliminate all ads from a site: banner ads, video ads, and the like. Still, with election season upon us again in a year or two, maybe it’s not that bad of a deal.
Why this matters: Every Web site struggles to make money, and let’s face it—ad blockers exist to erase some of the more annoying ads. With Contributor, you can run whatever ad-blocking software you choose, content in the knowledge that you’re still funding a favorite site.