A few days ago Google launched a new service called Google Contributor, « an experiment in additional ways to fund the web » as stated on the welcome page. Basically, this service lets you pay a monthly contribution between $1 and $3 and will remove the ads on the partners’ websites you’re visiting and display a nice picture or a thank-you note instead.
Here’s a few thoughts I had about Contributor. I tried to figure technically how it’s implemented on the first partners and I think that it explains a lot of things.
You don’t need to deliver only Adsense to benefit from Contributor, in fact Google is also acting as a “proxy” for other ad networks (it’s called a passback, when you don’t hit the first ad network you reach the next one and so on). So the main requirement is to use Google on top of every ad zone you serve on your website, which is basically letting Google know every ad network you use instead of just being a simple ad network amongst the others.
This also explains why the zones don’t disappear: When you’re a “Contributor”, you have a specific Adsense cookie, so the publishers don’t have to detect you as a Contributor, it’s only Google that detects it and then block the ad calls and displays something nice instead.
The main advantage of Contributor over Readability is that it’s built on Adsense and is a reversed logic: They make you put your ads as usual and provide a way to remove them in exchange for a small fee, whereas Readability or even Flattr want to force publishers to remove every ads first, then promote their contribution system.
I also saw some reactions about this being a competition for AdBlock.
First, the AdBlock users probably won’t notice the Contributor page because it’s blocking AdSense, so I don’t think a lot of AdBlock users will abandon the plugin in favour of Contributor. Also I think a lot of AdBlock users don’t want to pay anyway for big websites like the first partners (Urban Dictionary, The Onion, ScienceDaily, wikiHow, Mashable, Imgur), but it could change in the future for smaller, indie publishers.
If you want more, I recommend David Chartier‘s opinion about Google Contributor and why he’s excited about it.
Side note: I’m interested in this topic because we have an ad agency in France and are working on product based on AdBlock, in order to give publishers tools to work with AdBlock users and find the best ways to monetize them.