When Mozilla and Pocket joined forces less than a year ago, we said that together we will work to provide people everywhere with the tools to discover and access high-quality web content across platforms and silos, for a safer, empowered, independent online experience.
When we started testing Pocket Recommendations in Firefox Beta New Tab last year, we were excited to find that people used New Tab more when this feature was enabled. So, Pocket began powering the content recommendations in Firefox Quantum New Tab page in the U.S., Canada, and Germany. Since the Firefox Quantum launch in November 2017, Pocket has made more than 14 billion recommendations to the most interesting stories on the web.
What’s next? We recently started testing personalized recommendations, and we will soon experiment with showing an occasional sponsored story within the Pocket Recommendations section in New Tab Page in Firefox Beta. This will be shown to a small portion of U.S. users as we start to test.
Why does this matter?
While advertising is the business model of the web, it has evolved into one that doesn’t put the user first. We believe the current model of web advertising is broken because it doesn’t respect user privacy, isn’t transparent, lacks control, all the while trending towards click-bait and low-quality content.
The balance between commercial profit and public benefit is critical to the health of the internet, which is central to our mission at Mozilla. We need to conduct experiments like this in order to help create change.
How is it different?
We believe we can create a platform that supports high-quality content, respects user privacy, and that puts control back into the hands of users—and do so in a way that’s financially sustainable for the future health of the web. So, we’re exploring and testing a responsible sponsored content model that delivers:
- Privacy. Delivers personalization without needing to vacuum up all of your personal data or sharing it with others. (Read more about how we protect your privacy here.)
- Quality. Rewards valuable content, worthy of your time. Not driven by clicks.
- Control. If you see a story you’re not a fan of, you can hide it. Or you can disable sponsored content altogether. (Read how to do that here.)
- Transparency. Sponsored stories will be clearly marked.
- Openness. As an open organization, all code in Firefox is open source and we’re open about all our products and policies.
This is an issue that is so important to the health of the internet and it has been broken for a while. We experimented here before and learned a lot, but wanted to focus more and discoverability and quality of content to provide the best user experience. Pocket has a lot of experience connecting users with high-quality content and has been delivering value from sponsored content to users and content owners for years.
How can I get involved?
It’s important to us to get this right. For the web to be healthy, users to be empowered, in control and have their privacy respected, and it has to be economically viable for creators to create great content. We’re working to build a better web for you and your voice is important, so we’ll be looking for your feedback about our experiments and how to deliver the best experience.