Back in 2014 Google had introduced an ad-removal service called Google Contributor. On selected websites, for example Mashable and Android Police, you can pay a small monthly fee and access their content without advertisements. This way, people can access premium content on different websites without various sorts of advertisements obstructing their view. So far, Google Contributor has been available just in the US.
In December 2016 the program stopped taking new registrations and the service is being relaunched in mid-January 2017, according to this Android Police update. People who participated in the program received an email that Google Contributor has ceased to exist in its current form and it will be relaunched early next year, 2016, with better features. People who have already paid and who have a balance remaining, will be refunded and/or billing will happen after mid-January 2017.
This is a weird way of revamping an operational service, especially when people are already using it and have also paid money for it. You expect such actions from smaller companies, but not bigger companies like Google.
Presented below is the email received by different Google Contributor users or subscribers:
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 you
Starting 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 billing
You 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.
Google Contributor depends on micro-payments but it is difficult to imagine actually how many people opted to pay instead of seeing ads on their favourite websites. Seeing ads can be inconvenient, but not as inconvenient as motivating people to pay to remove them. But it’s a good way to get at least some money from people who would never click on the ads and therefore generate money for the publishers.
It’s not that once they started using Google Contributor the publishers couldn’t use ads on their websites. Ads would be hidden only for those users who had opted for Google Contributor.