Mozilla launched a new subscription-based service today in partnership with Scroll.com that gives subscribers an ad-free reading experience on participating news sites.
Some might say that they get an ad-free experience already thanks to the content blocker that they are using, and that may very well be the case for sites that don’t use paywalls or other means of blocking Internet users with ad-blockers from accessing the sites.
The idea behind the new service is simple: make sure that site owners and users benefit from an ad-free Internet. Many Internet sites rely on advertisement revenue. Content blockers, on the other hand, remove ads which is beneficial to the user, but they don’t address the revenue issue that arises. You could say that it is not the task of the content blocker to make sure that a site survives, and that is true, but as a user, you may be interested in keeping some sites alive.
With Scroll, users would pay a monthly subscription fee to support participating sites.
The details are a bit blurry right now. The First Look page is up and it provides some information. According to it, a subscription will cost $4.99 per month but you don’t get to see a list of participating sites right now. A click on subscribe leads to a survey and and that sign-ups are limited at the time.
Scroll lists some of its partners, and it is a selection of major sites such as Slate, The Atlantic, Gizmodo, Vox, or The Verge.
The participating companies receive subscription money instead of advertising revenue. How the subscription money is split up is unclear and there is no information on Scroll’s website about how the money is divided among the participating companies.
Will participating publishers get their share based on activity or is it a flat fee instead? Mozilla and Scroll will likely get a cut as well.
Subscribers get a handful of other benefits besides supporting sites and accessing these sites without seeing any advertisement: from a seamless experience between mobile and desktop devices to audio versions of articles, and a special app that highlights new content without advertising.
The idea to get Internet users to pay a small amount of money to get rid of advertisement is not entirely new. The test that Mozilla plans to conduct is very limited at the time, only a handful of publishers support it and while that makes for a good start, it is hard to imagine that this is attractive enough to get a sustainable number of users to sign up.
It may be an option for Internet users who are a regular on one or multiple of the sites that joined the experiment, and it may be better than having to deal with sites individually instead. Then again, unless Scroll supports lots of sites, I cannot really see this go far unless the service opens its door for all publishers and reveals how business is conducted. The chance of success is certainly higher with a partner like Mozilla.
ABOUT MARTIN BRINKMANN
Martin Brinkmann is a journalist from Germany who founded Ghacks Technology News Back in 2005. He is passionate about all things tech and knows the Internet and computers like the back of his hand. You can follow Martin on Facebook or TwitterView all posts by Martin Brinkmann →