Sick of ads? Now you can pay Google not to see them, plus sites can charge ad-blocker users

Google rolls out its wider plan to beat back the threat of ad blockers to revenues.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Google's Contributor ad-removal pass is one of several new measures to clean up online advertising.

Image: iStock

Google has relaunched a product called Google Contributor that allows people to pay a monthly fee to avoid seeing ads and compensates sites for the resulting lost revenue.

The Google Contributor 'ad removal pass' joins a raft of new measures Google is rolling out to clean up online advertising and stem the threat of ad blockers to revenues.

Google also launched Funding Choices, which will allow publishers to display a message to visitors using an ad blocker and offer them an ad-free subscription via Contributor.

"With Funding Choices, now in beta, publishers can show a customized message to visitors using an ad blocker, inviting them to either enable ads on their site, or pay for a pass that removes all ads on that site through the new Google Contributor," explained Sridhar Ramaswamy, senior vice president of Google's ads and commerce business.

So far only 12 sites are participating in the program, including Business Insider UK, Eurogamer, and Popular Mechanics.

Visitors load a Contributor pass with $5, and a per-page fee is deducted and paid to the website. It's not clear how much it will cost end-users as it's up to each publisher to set their own per-page price. Users can add or remove participating sites from their pass. Publishers can apply to use Contributor on their site.

Google also confirmed yesterday's report by The Wall Street Journal that it will be rolling out an 'ad filter' feature in Chrome in early 2018, which blocks ads that don't conform to the Coalition for Better Ads standards of acceptability.

"We plan to have Chrome stop showing ads, including those owned or served by Google, on websites that are not compliant with the Better Ads Standards starting in early 2018," said Ramaswamy.

Funding Choices is rolling out to North America, the UK, Germany, Australia and New Zealand, with more countries gaining access later this year.

Google Contributor was actually launched in 2015 with the same proposition as today, but it was never expanded beyond the US. Google stopped billing users in January but said an improved version would return in early 2017.

The effort to neutralize ad blockers comes as ad-blocker usage continues to rise. As of December, 615 million, or around 11 percent of internet users, were running an ad blocker. Google's survey of 1,000 people in the US and Europe found that 63 percent used an ad blocker because of too many ads, while 48 percent used one to block annoying ads.

The EU earlier this year announced a proposal to allow publishers to use ad-blocker detecting technology without requesting the visitor's consent. This position reverses the status quo.

As a privacy campaigner pointed out last year, the EU's ePrivacy Directive only permits a publisher to run a browser script that checks for the presence of an ad blocker if the user has consented to it.

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