Google Helps Readers Pay For News

Google Contributor is the latest tool the company has designed to help readers pay for what they read online. But its previous experiments in supporting paid content have had limited success, reports Justin Ellis from NiemanLab.

The way it works is that each publisher gets the equivalent of the market rate for an ad shaved off their contribution each time they visit a site, according to Google spokeswoman Andrea Faville. Users can support their favorite website and enjoy an ad-free (or at least Google-ad-free) reading experience. People using Contributor get a NSFW-looking pixelated box in the familiar ad slots on a page, along with a message thanking them for contributing.

Contributor is currently invite-only, but the project has the potential to be expanded out to more publishers and a broader collection of users, Faville told me. “A healthy web depends on healthy publishers,” she said.

Whether or not banner ads are dead, media companies of all sizes are trying to invest in new ways of making money. According to Paul Cafiero, a spokesman for Mashable, the company is curious to see what the experiment with Google yields.

“Mashable is continuously experimenting with new platforms, formats, and technologies to provide our audience with the best possible experience,” said Cafiero. “We are excited to work with Google in this experimentation phase of Contributor to test out this new form of ad distribution.”

Contributor is one of a number of reader-revenue options a publisher can use alongside advertising, events and other sources.

Read Justin’s full article here.