Google has launched a new ad-free subscription experiment, letting users pay a monthly fee to view content on select publisher’s websites without any banners.
The program, called Contributor, currently only works with 10 Web publishers, including Imugr, The Onion and Mashable.
Users pay $1 to $3 per month and see a thank-you note on websites instead of an advertisement. A portion of the money goes to Google and a portion to the website.
Users log into the service via their Google account – which will trigger the ad-free version of sites.
“When you visit a participating website, part of your contribution goes to the creators of that site,” the Google Contributor site said. “The more you contribute, the more you support the websites you visit.”
The thank-you note appears in place of an ad that Google otherwise would have supplied, spokeswoman Andrea Faville said.
The 10 publishers participating in the experiment include photo-sharing site Imgur, news satire site The Onion, tech news site Mashable and slang-explanation site Urban Dictionary.
Access to the service is currently by invitation only and interested websites can sign up to be on the waiting list.
Contributor describes itself as “an experiment in additional ways to fund the web. Today’s internet is mostly funded by advertising. But what if there were a way to directly support the people who create the sites you visit each day?”
Advertisers are expected to spend $141 billion on online ads this year, and that number should increase annually more than 15 percent in 2016, according to eMarketer.
Google is the top beneficiary by far this year, receiving an estimated 32.4 percent of that total. Facebook is next at 8 percent, followed by Microsoft at 2.9 percent and Yahoo at 2.4 percent.
Some websites are already experimenting with paywalls, including the Wall Street Journal and The Times but those sites still show advertising.
A service called Readability tried something similar to Contributor but shut down in 2012.