Mozilla on Firefox Snippets browser ads: It's just an experiment, bro!

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We reported yesterday that Mozilla has been inserting more ads in their Firefox browser, this time in the Snippets section of the New Page window.

Now Mozilla has revealed more about this new “feature” to VentureBeat.

In a statement Mozilla PR’s Justin O’Kelly revealed that they have been sending out the Snippets promotions to millions of Firefox users, saying:

The snippet ran for five days and ended on schedule on December 30th. About 25 percent of the U.S. audience who were using the latest edition of Firefox within the past five days were eligible to see it.”

They also revealed this was their second promotion, with an earlier one offering free tickets to a Phosphorescent concert.

Mozilla, however, insists the promotions were not ads, preferring to call them experiments and rewards for using Firefox.

“This snippet was an experiment to provide more value to Firefox users through offers provided by a partner,” a Mozilla spokesperson told VentureBeat. “It was not a paid placement or advertisement. We are continually looking for more ways to say thanks for using Firefox. In a similar vein, earlier this month we offered Firefox users a free opportunity to enjoy a live concert from Phosphorescent. In addition to adding value to Firefox users, these efforts are intended to support an open ecosystem. When users see such offers, no data is being shared with a partner until users have made the choice to enter a relationship. We hope that this strategy sets a positive example.”

Mozilla has already recently introduced their Contextual Feature Recommender (CFR) feature to make it easier to target specific user behaviour, and while Mozilla insists no user data is shared with “partners”, Mozilla does collect details such as language and location when the browser request Snippets ads. With Mozilla increasingly pursuing ad-based revenue streams we wonder what the next way the company will start selling their user base to advertisers.

With Mozilla rushing into monetizing their user base without any prior consultation, should the foundation simply be more honest about their ad-driven strategy and allow users to decide how (or if)  they wish to support their work? Let us know below.

More about the topics: ads, firefox, mozilla