Commercial free content. Would you pay to diminish the number of ads that appear on your screen while you surf the Web? Google is testing a service that will allow users to do just that. The service, called Contributor, will give visitors to ten web sites that Google has partnered with the opportunity to pay a monthly fee of between $1 and $3 to avoid being subjected to on-screen promotions. In exchange for forking over the funds, a small portion of which will go to Google, readers of content on sites including Mashable and The Onion will see banners thanking them for their patronage in the spots where on-screen advertisements would otherwise appear. According to the New York Times, this isn’t the first time that the tech giant has tested Internet users’ willingness to pay for content, and it probably won’t be the last.
Flying less-than-friendly skies. The bankruptcy-plagued airline industry is finally turning to its customers’ personal information as a source of potential revenue. Airlines are late to the customer-data-mining party because, compared to traditional retailers, airlines need to track their patrons over a much longer time period to get a sense of their spending habits (most people purchase plane tickets a lot less frequently than they buy, for example, coffee). But, faced with ticket prices that barely cover costs, airlines are turning to tech-savvy global distribution service companies for several years’ worth of a customer’s transactions and information gleaned from patrons’ social media profiles and interactions. The airlines hope the information will allow them to deliver more targeted offers to air travelers, but—for frequent flyers—it poses yet another privacy concern. As if turbulence weren’t enough to worry about?