Experimenting with Add-on Promotions

This is a guest post by Pascal Finette from Mozilla Labs.

We introduced a refreshed first run page with the launch of Firefox 3.6, which looks and feels more tightly integrated into the overall Firefox experience. As part of this page, we created a section which highlights the benefits of Firefox add-ons and directs users to the Add-ons for Firefox Web site.

Screenshot of First run page

In our continued effort to offer the best possible user experience and promote the discoverability of add-ons, we are running a pilot program to experiment with a new format: In addition to the broad add-ons promotion on the new first run page, we will display certain Recommended Add-ons.

These recommendations will run in a rotation – there will be four promotions in total during the pilot (including two add-ons, the current general promotion for add-ons and a Thunderbird promotion). The two add-ons in the pilot were selected from a list of recommended add-ons and contain one commercial (StumbleUpon) and one non-commercial add-on (ReminderFox).

Here’s more information about the first run page pilot experiment:

What is promoted on the first run page during the pilot?

For this pilot we will rotate two internal promotions (addons.mozilla.org and Thunderbird) as well as promotions for two recommended add-ons (StumbleUpon and ReminderFox).

How were pilot partners selected?

The add-ons for the pilot were selected from the list of recommended add-ons based on popularity and user feedback and then asked to participate.

Will other recommended add-ons be promoted on the first run page?

That depends on the results of this test. Look out for more information soon; we’ll be publishing the results of the pilot and our plans to move forward.

Is this paid-for-display advertising?

No. In terms of money, if the add-on is of a commercial nature and the promotion drives revenue for the add-on developer, we ask the developer to contribute back to the Mozilla project under a partnership agreement. However, placement on the first run page cannot be bought – we will only promote recommended add-ons.

How do add-ons become recommended?

The recommended lists are an important part of exposing visitors to useful and compelling add-ons with a small, focused list. The list features add-ons that offer a unique or exciting enhancement to Mozilla software and increases awareness of the thousands of add-ons hosted here. Read more about the recommended add-ons list here.

When will results from the pilot be provided?

The pilot will run for 6-12 weeks. When results have been gathered and examined following the pilot we will release the data. Depending on the success of the pilot, we may decide to continue promoting recommended add-ons on the first run page — at this point in time, we’ll provide more information on process and criteria.

Where does the revenue go?

All proceeds contribute to Mozilla’s public benefit mission. This includes covering the operational costs of hosting and distributing thousands of free add-ons, as well as community programs to encourage innovation in add-on development worldwide.

21 comments on “Experimenting with Add-on Promotions”

  1. Kurt (supernova_00) wrote on

    I’d like to suggest the test pilot add-on as an internal promotion. My understanding is that this add-on needs for end-users as the results are sort of skewed towards nightly testers.

  2. Vin wrote on

    Sounds like a great idea to make users more aware that addons exist, and to drive usage/downloads for addons that greatly enhance the FF experience. It seems that the recommended list is not updated every month. Is there any specific schedule as to when new addons are rotated in/out?

  3. alex wrote on

    Why did you eliminate the image preview from the addons?it was so useful to browse on so many themes and get that first preview and to quickly filtrate what you want. i’m very disturbed by this because i like changing themes and now it’s so hard to choose(you have to open each and every addon in a new tab to see if you like it or not.) please change back to the way it was previously.

  4. Pascal wrote on

    Thank you for your suggestion. We’re in discussion with the Test Pilot team. 🙂

    Thank you for your comment! As mentioned in the blog post – this is a pilot, once we see how the promotion performs, we’re going to put more of a program around this. This will include a more structured approach to rotate add-ons, etc. 🙂

    I assume you talk about Personas, right? The preview works in Firefox 3.6 (or when you have the add-on installed). If you have problems with this, please contact our support community at http://support.mozilla.com/

  5. alex wrote on

    @pascal no i wasn’t talking about personas. let’s just take an example. i search add-ons only by themes and theme like noia 2.0 is in the list which apeared. now the thing which i was talking is that i cannot see the preview of noia in the list with the other results of the search and i have to open the theme and then i can see the preview. is it just my problem?

  6. mark irwin wrote on

    I like the idea of a promotion, to get people aware of firefox add-ons, but when I tried to sign up for stumbleupon, it would not acknowledge my information. When I tried again, I was told the user name I had selected was already taken. I was unable to log in using the info I gave. I like Firefox, and recommend it to friends, but this is silly, only worthy of Windoze at its best (or worst).

  7. Bill wrote on

    Thanks for pointing out this excellent add-on.
    I have been thinking about coding a reminder program for a while now,
    being that I am not a fan of Outlook. Now it will be right in my browser! That’s great. I have not yet explored it, but I am hoping to find some sort of export functionality. How secure is the data I put in it?
    Right now, I don’t think I want to store sensitive information in it, e.g. would it be a safe place to store passwords?

  8. Steph wrote on

    I’m sorry. I’m not very tech savvy. I am trying to figure out what this thing is that you’re offering. I don’t know what is coding or what a reminder program is. What is a ‘FF experience’.

    Please explain to me, without jargon or marketing language what the program can do for me. Be polite. I’m just trying to learn. Thanks.

  9. Linda wrote on

    My MacBook Pro gave me a warning before installing this program. It said author not known. How do I know this is secure, safe and backed up by FireFox as an authentic add-on produced/endorsed by FireFox?


  10. Linda wrote on

    When I submitted my comment, a screen appeared that stated: “Are you Human?” Then it required that I answer a math problem (6+0) and submit. Answering the math problem and submitting it brought me to this screen. I found the process insulting, rude, and suspicious. I am asking for assurance not insults.


  11. Geoff Fenton wrote on

    Have new computer loaded w/win7 – On attempting to download Firefox the new OS wont let me… just what is the deterrent and what do you folks recommend as the answer?? Thanx geoff

    I started w/Firefox about 2004 when I was forced to use dial-up & Outlook + IE drove me crazy till I found Firefox – from then through 3 ISPs life has been more than bearable! Useful add ons and now more fodder? You are of course forcing me to use facebook & twitter which I never expected to do!
    & I have converted daughter & son-in-law plus a number of others – even though daughter uses a mac – & I’m very glad you boys (girls?) have won over your recent glitcheses – best regards now & forever – gf

  12. Linda wrote on

    What do you mean “Your comment is awaiting moderation?” I asked reasonable questions. I described my experience and computer response after I downloaded the add-on; i.e., as I stated in my comment, it warned me. I used the the computer’s phrase “author not known.” My second comment to you was an honest description and my personal response to the whole experience up to this point.
    I am still interested in installing and trying out ReminderFox. I would appreciate a response from you. If you prefer to privately respond, please do so at my email address, which I provided when I started this whole dialogue. (At least I would like for it to be a dialogue.)

  13. Linda wrote on

    What are you wanting from me?


  14. Donald Sheldon wrote on


    Sounds like you are the impatient type. The question are you human is standard operating procedure so please do not take it personal. There are a lot of robot programs that write out there and these are defeated by asking for a answer that only a human can/will respond to.

    Donald Sheldon

  15. Gwen Berry wrote on

    Linda…. I’m with you. I also do not speak computer-eze and did not download the add-on Reminderfox because I, too, got the warning that the author is unknown. If this is a FF add-on, why is the author unknown? Sounds like a good idea and one I would definitely use if I knew for sure it was safe before downloading.

    FF experience? Have no idea what that is. Have used FF for years as a browser and as long as I do not get attacked and the pop-ups are killed, I guess I’m having the FF experience?


  16. P Fraterdeus wrote on

    Linda, Steph

    Everything you need to know can be found by reading material easily discovered here:


  17. Foam Folding Bed wrote on

    Sounds like an interesting project, and it’s good to know that Mozilla is continuing its mission of using its proceeds to benefit the public. Eager to see what the results of this pilot program are.

  18. Bob wrote on

    Sorry, just installed Firefox and there are several things I’m still figuring out until then I’d just like to understand wat I have.

  19. shrdlu wrote on

    I would suggest that you CLEARLY label the add-ons on the Firefox main page as outside programs. I installed the reminder program because I thought it was created by Mozilla. I did not see any statement saying otherwise or anything indicating that it was just an ad for an outside program. I was not until I landed on this page that I realized it was an outside program. I began to get suspicious when I saw a PC cleaner link/promotion and looked at the bottom of the reminder website to see who owned it, and then realized that I ‘may not be in Kansas anymore.’ By clicking through these series of non-labeled advertising links, who knows what pages that I might have ultimately landed on, still thinking the sites were all Mozilla owned. By not clearly labeling outside programs as such, you run the risk of creating bad feelings for your customers.

    Just my humble 2 cents (which is not worth much in today’s economy).

  20. dentaltech wrote on

    Sounds like an interesting project, and it’s good to know that Mozilla is continuing its mission of using its proceeds to benefit the public. Eager to see what the results of this pilot program are

  21. TalktoGirls wrote on

    It says that the experimenting was going to last 6-12 weeks, now that it’s over, what are the results? Are you guys going to continue with the promotions?

    I thought it was a good idea to provide additional promotion to the recommended add-ons. I mean, they are usually widely recommended for a reason!

    In fact, I think users should probably see a list of recommended add-ons when they install Firefox. Maybe something to consider for Firefox 4…