- Mozilla is set to start showing sponsored content on Firefox
- Firefox 60 will show sponsored stories for users in the US
- The company tested the model initially with a small portion of US users
While Mozilla lately criticised Facebook for abusing user data to serve ads on the social network, the same company is now set to serve sponsored content through its Firefox browser. This sponsored content will debut with Firefox 60, which is scheduled for general release on May 9, and will go live for users in the US. Mozilla notably started to explore the new revenue model by showing occasional sponsored stories in the Pocket Recommendations section of Firefox’s new tabs earlier this year. The feature was initially limited to a “small portion of US users” and was expanded to Firefox Nightly and Beta users recently.
Mozilla claims that instead of being a model for revenue generation, sponsored content on Firefox will make Web browsing personalised. The company also emphasised that the sponsored stories through its Web browser will provide value to users – without sacrificing their privacy. “We’ve come to accept a premise around advertising today that users need to trade their privacy and data in exchange for personalised, high-quality experiences. Our experiments over the last few months have proved that this isn’t true. We are indeed able to create personalised sponsored content that provides value to users without jeopardising their privacy,” Pocket founder Nate Weiner said in a blog post.
Mozilla acquired read-it-later service Pocket in early 2017 with an aim to provide users with tools to discover high-quality Web content on their terms and independent of the platform. However, a long time before the acquisition, Firefox added access to the Pocket service that took place particularly in June 2015 and was designed to let users read content from Pocket without signing up separately for the service.
But now, Mozilla is leveraging the ownership of Pocket to show sponsored stories. The company says that users will be provided with an option to disable sponsored content. But again, this will be an option; the sponsored content will by default exist in Firefox. Having said that, Mozilla assures that all the personalisation will happen on the client-side. This doesn’t mean that no user data will be collected throughout the process. Mozilla will collect technical and interaction data from Firefox, as specified in the FAQ section of the Pocket integration. Moreover, sponsored content on Firefox will be clearly marked as sponsored stories.
Users who don’t want to a particular sponsored story on the new tab of Firefox can remove it by hitting the Dismiss option after clicking the three-dot button from the top-right corner of the tile. Similarly, the entire Pocket Recommendations section can be removed by selecting the New Tab Preferences gear icon and then unchecking the Recommended by Pocket option.