Google Contributor – trying to disrupt the advertising AND the content market AND the publishing business
Brilliant but scary article from Venturebeat. . .
Today, Google launched Contributor, a pilot program that allows users to donate a few dollars to make Google’s ads disappear on select websites. For now, invited users can voluntarily donate $1 to $3 to view ad-free versions of websites that include Mashable, The Onion, and ScienceDaily.
Given that Google’s business model is almost entirely based on ad revenue, some in the tech press were surprised that the search giant would even touch such an idea. I have a different theory, based on my experience talking to Google execs over the last few years: Contributor is an elaborate experiment to prove that the public prefers advertisements to paid content.
If it fails, Google will have a wonderful argument in its public relations arsenal in support of its business model. Google will be able to proudly claim that it gave the public the choice to pay money and support their favorite websites. But when the public doesn’t rush to open their wallets, it will prove Google’s core mission right: The public prefers a free, ad-supported Web.
If Google proves itself right then we are looking down the barrel of Disrupted Advertising the second time around after Adwords. It can start to run ever more intrusive advertising (seen Youtube clips recently? – forced ads at the beginning of posts – often not able to skip the advertising until a few seconds exposure).