Google was at one point working on a tipping feature that would let people donate small amounts of money to websites as they were browsing them, but it abandoned the idea in favor of other pursuits. As reported by TechCrunch — which obtained mock-up images of the way the feature would work — the tool would link to Google Payments and give readers the option of making a one-time donation of $0.25 to $5, via a floating button at the bottom of their screen, to help support news publishers, bloggers and musicians.
While this tool could have generated a valuable source of revenue for these often-struggling sites — affected by declining incomes long before the coronavirus hit — Google decided not to pursue the idea. After confirming to TechCrunch that the leaked images were legitimate and that it had been considering implementing the feature last year, Google issued a statement saying, “We recognize that there isn’t a single business model that works for all publishers today and think it’s critical to explore new technologies that can help publishers make more money. Funding Choices is a great example of a product we have invested in significantly and will continue to evolve to support publishers and their monetization strategies.”