Google Contributor subscription service supports sites and hides ads. Can it work?

Google Contributor is a subscription service that allows users to surf the web without the annoyance of ads. Other services have tried similar models and experienced pushback from content creators who say they aren't paid enough for their work. Will Google Contributor work?

Mike Blake/Reuters/File
A Google logo is seen at a Best Buy electronics store in this file photo illustration taken in Encinitas, California, on April 11, 2013.

Online ads are so annoying. They pop up, flicker, and sometimes shout things at you. But ads are often the only revenue stream for websites people love. Google, who makes billions off of ads, is introducing a new service that could make them a thing of the past.

Google is launching Contributor, a subscription based service that removes ads from partnering sites. Users can pay between $1 and $3 a month to surf a partner's site without the annoyance of ads. Google adds, "The more you contribute, the more you support the websites you visit."

Current partner sites include: Mashable, Urban Dictionary, The Onion, wikiHow, ScienceDaily, and Imgur. When users go to these sites, instead of seeing an ad for something you probably don't want, the site will say "Thank you for contributing." The new service will only block ads supplied by Google. The company currently makes a large portion of its revenue from ads. During the last quarter alone, Google made $16.5 billion.

"[I]f you consider that Google is in the business of monetizing content, it makes sense to offer both subscription and ad-supported models," Colin Gillis, senior analyst at BGC Partners, told CNBC.

Contributor is still in the beta phase, and users need an invitation to join. Google is starting out with smaller websites to get a feel for how the service would work on a larger site. 

The idea behind Google Contributor isn't new. Google itself has released a similar subscription service for YouTube. But some services that offer subscription models in lieu of ads, like Spotify, have come under fire for the amount of money that goes to the content creators. Taylor Swift pulled her new album, 1989, from the site in early November because she felt Spotify wasn't compensating her enough for the work.

"The landscape of the music industry itself is changing so quickly, that everything new, like Spotify, all feels to me a bit like a grand experiment," Swift said told Yahoo. "And I'm not willing to contribute my life's work to an experiment that I don't feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists, and creators of this music. And I just don't agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free." 

Unlike other ad-blocking services, like AdBlock, Contributor will give publishers part of the revenue, though Google hasn't released the amount it would pay. Google Contributor could be a good source of revenue for Google and provide a steady stream of revenue to support the site. But that could be difficult unless enough users sign up for the service.

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