Google Contributor as we know it is being unceremoniously shut down

Google Contributor, the service that let you pay fractions of pennies to remove Google-served ads from websites, is being shut down in mid-January 2017. In an email set to Contributor subscribers, Google says that there are "important changes" coming to Contributor ... mainly, that it's being shut down.

The full email:

Thank you for being a part of Google Contributor, a service that helps readers enjoy fewer ads while funding the sites they love.Early next year we are launching a new and improved Contributor -- your input throughout testing has been invaluable! As we build this new service, we will discontinue the current version of Contributor.What this means for youStarting in mid-January 2017, you will no longer see Contributor ad replacements as you browse the web and you will be unable to access your Contributor account.About payments and billingYou will no longer be billed for the Contributor service starting mid-January 2017, and we will refund your remaining account balance to your credit or debit card on file.

Since launching in late 2014, Google Contributor has gone through a few different iterations of how it removes ads and charges users. The most recent (and user-friendly) model was to simply charge a flat rate of $6.99 per month and calculate the cost of the ads you removed, refunding you any money that wasn't put toward ads. It meant you never overpaid, and also didn't really feel the effect of being charged for every single ad that was removed.

Contributor needed improving, but handling it this way is odd.

While Google says that a new and improved version of Contributor will be launching next year, it's odd to see that its process for doing so involves completely shutting down the current version of Contributor and locking everyone's account. Considering how it's being handled, we could be in store for a pretty dramatic change to Contributor (including the name, perhaps).

Contributor was certainly an interesting idea and one that aimed to counteract the high usage of ad blockers on the web, but I find it hard to believe that there was any substantial number of users actively paying Contributor to remove ads. For as good of an idea as it is in its current form, Contributor needs a restructuring if it's going to catch on at the scale of any other Google service. Those who wish to be notified of the relaunch of Contributor's replacement can fill out this form and find out first.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

22 Comments
  • Honestly, I had forgot that it existed. With a touch more publicity/visibility, maybe it wouldn't have s(t)unk.
  • Exactly. This is the first time I'm hearing about this.
  • Problem is it was inherently a "power user" kind of thing. But I agree it could've been marketed better rather than withering on the vine like so many other Google products.
  • I've never heard of this. I might have signed up. Oh well.
  • If they really do relaunch it then you'll still have a chance to sign up.
  • I swear I'll take over Google marketing for only $50k a year and do a better job of actually LETTING PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT THESE THINGS!!!
  • Cool. Will it involve lots of all-caps shouting?
  • Not sure the info here is exactly correct. I run a large website and I'm on the Google Webmaster panel, very few websites were offered the opportunity to run this as a beta test. We ran it then a couple of months later, Google ended the beta. That was back in early 2016. It only affected the Google AdSense ads, not all ads, so on some websites that run a huge number (too many) ads, visitors probably wouldn't even know there were some ads missing and that's my opinion on why it may have failed.
  • The problem with Contributor is that it doesn't remove ads, it simply replaces them. Instead of the original ad, you see a message thanking you for being a contributor along with the background of your choice (one of them being cat pictures.) So on a mobile device, on those timed pop-up ads that cover your entire screen, your experience is still being interrupted, only with a thank you message instead.
  • Wrong Takeaway.... Turns out people have MUCH better solutions than paying money to advertising companies. Adblockers work!!! Even AndroidCentral is feeling the pinch.
    (It says 500M Customers reached yearly at the bottom of this page. But Ublock Origin says 30 items blocked. No ads at all ) This scheme was simply another way of rewarding abusive ad-slingers by paying them money to be somewhat less abusive, kind of like paying the neighborhood "protection money" bully to keep your store from being robbed. It didn't work, it was far too expensive, and it was just another means of web-user abuse. Advertisers and their middle men have been SO abusive for SO long that people are taking back the control of their own computers and blocking all of them, and letting god sort it out. 30 ads Android Central. Thirty of them. And you wonder why people run adblockers. For one or two per page, I might allow AC pages past my adblocker. But 30? No. Just NO.
  • I paid a dollar or two to get rid of most ads on my phone and I'm assuming millions are doing the same.
  • I see 27 blocked now. On my office PC where I do not use adblocker, AC website is unusable, loading up ages, slow and just pile of flashy crap...
  • Agreed. If it blocked all ads it would be great. But I can't stand all the ads. I respect advertisers that have ads on the SIDES of the webpage, with NO animation. Animated ads that slow my system down, pop up ads that completely block the page (and slow my system down), and ads that load 10 seconds after you get to the page and end up RIGHT where you click "next", are infuriating! I look at the product, and go, "Well that's cool, but you just lost my business because of your stupid pop-up ad!". I mean, do they think that crap improves their business? Do ad department people not actually use the internet?
  • And now, in its latest 'performance' update, Android Central has included ads in the AC application for our viewing pleasure. It was nice of them to mention it in the change log, so I won't be accepting that update. Just another reason to have automatic updates turned off in the Google Play Store.
  • Wish I turned my automatic updates off, now the app is less usable because I can't just swipe through the articles :(
  • Well you can just uninstall that AC android advertising engine, and read the feed with Greader or your favorite feed reader.
    AC (Mobile Nations) will probably shut down their feed or fill it full of ads once they see those impressions disappearing. I fully realize there are salaries to AC editors and authors involved here. But those guys and gals also have to realize they work (at least part time) for a very user-abusive organization.
  • Lol at the attitude from this guy. If you want no ads, make your own website. These people don't do this as charity work. The web is monetized. Even the adblockers make money from ads. I get that ads can be a distraction and at times messy, but you are free to go to website that doesn't have as many ads. Contributor was great because it blocked a lot of ads but still gave the money to Google and the website.
  • Not the jerekwad but... I used contributor for a while but ended up dropping out. Considering it only occasionally gave money to the sites I decided it wasn't worth it. I already have an ad blocker, what's the point of a service like this doesn't replace the need for sites to use ads what's the point? I wish more sites would be like Wikipedia or something. Wikipedia might annoy with how often they beg for money, but they are genuinely useful and I'm glad to give them a monthly donation for their services. If I had an option to give a site/google a monthly payment to eliminate ads, ala YouTube Red or Reddit Gold I would give it a try again. Hell I'd probably stick with it for some time, like I have with those two puppers. Edit: words
  • I didn't even realize this was a thing, would have gladly paid them to remove ads if I would have known about it.
  • Huh. I'd never heard of this before. I might have bought into it if I could include my wife and kids as well.
  • This really sucks. Now all those cute pictures of cats will be gone. Save the ******* Google!
  • This whole service was completely unknown to me (and I am a big user of Google services). It seems that they make more revenue from ads than micropayments.