Categories: developers

Contributions Sources

Since we launched the Contributions Pilot last summer, thousands of users have helped out their favorite developers with small donations.  We’ve continued to expand on the pilot with new features like Pledge Drives and subscriptions, and now we’re going to look at where users make their donations to authors.

There are quite a few places where users can see Contributions links on AMO:

  • Add-on Detail page – The listing page for an add-on
  • Home Page – Links on the home page to Contributions
  • Meet the Developer – The “Meet the Developer” page that explains why an add-on was created and introduces the developer to users
  • Roadblock – A version of the “Meet the Developer” page that a user needs to click through to download an add-on
  • First Run Page – The First Run page allows developers to request contributions post-install with a version of the “Meet the Developer” page
  • Browse pages – Contributions links on the pages used to browse categories, most downloaded, recommended, and top-rated add-ons
  • Search – Contributions links on search results

Over the past 4 months, we’ve looked at the data we’ve gathered and found that add-ons users have given over $40,000 to the developers of their add-ons.  Here’s a breakdown of the entire group of contributions:


The bulk of contributions come from the Add-on Detail pages, where users directly click on the “Contribute” buttons.  First Run, Roadblock, and Meet The Developer all have similar slices at 9-12%.  The remainder of sources make up a mere 9% total of overall revenue. From looking at this data it looks like Add-on Detail pages are where users are most likely to make a decision to contribute– but the data looks different when we divide the group into different cohorts, based on how authors ask for contributions.

When add-on developers ask for contributions from their users, they have three options for presenting this offer:

  • Only when users click a “Contribute” link
  • In the background while an add-on is downloaded
  • As a roadblock when users click “Download”

Authors who don’t prompt for Contributions make up the largest group:


About half of all participating add-ons elected to go with the least obtrusive option.  Unsurprisingly, over three quarters of contributions come from the main “Add-on Detail” page.

Let’s look at the second group of authors who show the “Meet the Developer” page during add-on download:

simultaneousHere’s where things start to get interesting.  This is the only group that elected to use a First Run page in any significant degree, and as you can see, the First Run page links generated 37% of the revenue in this group.  Since this is currently the only way to reach users post-install, it is unsurprising that it does so well in comparison.

The last group has chosen to interrupt the download process with a “Meet the Developer” page:


Unsurprisingly, the roadblock generates the majority of revenue for this cohort. This is where the mix of contributions sources differ significantly than the first group.  While the revenue per add-on in this group is also lower than the other two, it’s important to take into consideration the relative popularity of add-ons in these three groups:

downloadsRoadblocked add-ons only represent 12% of the total downloads of Add-ons that request contributions.  This group is only about one-fifth as large as the no-roadblock, no-display-while-downloading group.  Let’s look at how revenue splits in these groups:


As you can see here, the roadblocked add-ons comprise 18% of overall revenue while only representing 12% of overall downloads.  The middle group seems to be doing somewhat worse, with 38% of the downloads only garnering 30% of overall contributions.

While this is far from a scientific study, it appears that add-ons that employ a roadblock in concert with a well written “Meet the Developer” page receive the highest revenue per download.  Also note that the First Run pages seem to work very well for developers that elect to use them.  Based on this observation, we believe that adding a First Run page can have a significant impact on donations from users.

If you’re an author who uses Contributions to sustain the development of your add-on, we hope this information helps you refine your approach with our Contributions pilot.

5 comments on “Contributions Sources”

  1. Brett Zamir wrote on

    Cool… A very helpful report and analysis…

    Off topic, I really hope there can be a way to share some revenue with localizers (esp. in conjunction with statistics about number of downloads for a given locale) as well as solicit help from volunteer designers (with whom could also be shared revenue).

    And while I’m very happy to see pledge drives implemented (you guys have been doing awesome work in implementing all of this), it’d also be cool to see users allowed to make pledges about what they’d pay to see implemented.

  2. Ken Saunders wrote on

    Hey it’s posts like this that reminds me to say that you’re all doing an awesome job.
    I love add-ons, and I love AMO. It’s my 3rd most visited site (Google #2, Facebook #1).

    Not that I have a massively used add-on (yet, muwhahaha), but I’d be very interested in being able to ask for contributions that could be directly donated to the charity or organization of my choice. Has anything like this been considered?

    I suppose that I could state that the contributions would go directly to a particular cause, but I think that there would be a credibility and trust issue from users/potential contributors.

    Mozilla could setup such a system and let developers choose from a list of causes for where they’d like the contributions to go to, but since this is a global gig, it may be tough putting together such a list and not excluding ones that people really want.
    I don’t know, perhaps you guys could kick this around? Or perhaps I should go to the newsgroup?

    While it would be done with the best of, and sincerest intentions, think of the marketing value. 🙂 Nah, jk (or am I). Mozilla is about the people, not their pockets.

  3. Nick Nguyen (osunick) wrote on

    Hey Ken,

    Many nonprofits and charities have paypal accounts- you can definitely use their paypal id’s as your contributions paypal account. Since users clearly see who the recipient is after going through the wall to paypal, I don’t think there are huge trust issues yet.

    We’re also looking at tying some of our own Add-ons to Mozilla Foundation contributions, so as we try that out we may learn some things on how to productize this more.


  4. Nick Nguyen (osunick) wrote on


    “Feature tipping” is something we’ve been looking at implementing on the Contributions Pilot- though given the lack of interest in pledge drives, it’s unclear whether or not it will make it onto our roadmap.

  5. zigboom wrote on

    Great article, very interesting!
    Thanks for the donations mechanism anyway, it’s beautifully executed and well deserved for the add-ons developers that do a lot of work for free.
    I just couldn’t understand how to use a first run page as a theme designer. Is it possible at all?
    I understand it can be linked to but is it possible to use it automatically?
    I know many add-ons open a first run page once installed but what about themes?
    Anyway, not sure I got the statistics right…can we conclude from this article that the road block is the most successful option
    (relatively to the size of course)?
    Would be great to expend on this article in order to help the developers use the new feature wisely and gently as possible. By the way, one strange bug, I cannot upload a photo (even tried with other browsers).
    I think a photo can help a lot to see the person behind the add-on as a human being (without it looks a bit suspicious with the generic image).
    Hope it can be fixed (I’ll try another computer asap to see if it’s just my computer or isp). Thanks again, all the best.