Measuring Search in Firefox

Today we are launching a new search data collection initiative in Firefox. This data will allow us to greatly improve the Firefox search experience while still respecting user privacy.

Search is both a fundamental method for navigating the Web and how Mozilla makes much of its revenue. Our research shows users have complicated search workflows. We know from internal user research studies that users often start a search from places like the Awesome Bar or search bar and then continue to refine their search on the search engine results page. We call these additional searches follow-on searches.

Firefox telemetry already includes a count of the searches users perform in all Firefox search bars. Firefox does not yet count follow-on searches. This is a real challenge for Mozilla, because we don’t understand how well the Firefox search experience works for our users.

A new experiment launching today will measure follow-on searches. When you search with one of the search engines that we include in Firefox, we will increment a counter for each follow-on search. Our telemetry system will count follow-on searches the same way we already count direct searches from our search bars. We won’t collect search queries (the words you type into the search box) nor any other Web browsing activity.

We will roll out the new experiment to a random sample of 10% of Firefox release users. If successful, we will extend these follow-on search measurements to our entire release population as a part of our normal telemetry system.

We seek these new measurements to gain missing insight into a crucial browser interaction. These new measurements are consistent with our data collection principles. Data helps us decide where to apply our limited resources to improve Firefox, while also safeguarding user privacy.  Mozilla will continue to provide public documentation and user controls for all telemetry collected within Firefox. With better insight into search behavior, we can improve Firefox and continue to sustain Mozilla’s mission.

Javaun Moradi,  Sr. Product Manager, Firefox Search