Google Program Lets Readers Pay a Buck a Month to Block Ads

Test partners include The Onion, Imgur and Mashable

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Web publishers for 15 years have struggled with getting readers to pay for content they are accustomed to acquiring for free. Pay walls have been built and dismantled, print-and-digital packages have launched and often failed, but Google's going to see if viewers are happy to throw coins into the digital publisher's hat if they don't have to see those godforsaken ads.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based tech giant is testing a program called Contributor by Google with 10 publishers, including The Onion, Imgur and Mashable, in which users can pay $1, $2 or $3 a month to not see ads. A "thank you" message will appear in place of the promos, and the user will pitch in pennies from their $1 to $3 allotment every time they visit one of the sites. 

A Contributor by Google website went live yesterday, stating, "When you visit a participating website, part of your contribution goes to the creators of that site."

It's unclear whether the system eliminates video and native ads. But if the program works for the test partners, more Web publishers are certain to follow.

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.