Content on the web is powerful. It enables us to learn new things, discover different perspectives, stay in touch with what’s happening in the world, or just make us laugh. Making sure that stories like these—stories that are worth your time and attention—are discoverable and supported is central to what we care about at Pocket.
It’s important for quality content like this to thrive—and a critical way it’s funded is through advertising. But unfortunately, today, this advertising model is broken. It doesn’t respect user privacy, it’s not transparent, and it lacks control, all the while starting to move us toward low quality, clickbait content.
We believe the Internet can do better. So earlier this year, we started to explore a new model and showed an occasional sponsored story in Pocket’s recommendation section on Firefox New Tab. Starting today, we’re expanding this work further—now Firefox Nightly and Beta users may also see these sponsored stories. We’re preparing for this feature to go fully live in May to Firefox users in the US with the Firefox 60 release.
What You Can Expect from Us
When we started this experiment, we said that the platform we’re trying to create needs to be one that respects user privacy and puts control back into your hands. Meaning, it must deliver:
- Personalization, without sacrificing privacy. All personalization happens on the client-side, 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 just 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. As an open organization, all code in Firefox is open source and we’re open about all of our products and policies. (You can see exactly what data we collect, or more importantly, don’t collect)
This first bullet is a critical part of what we set out to prove. We’ve come to accept a premise around advertising today that users need to trade their privacy and data in exchange for personalized, high quality experiences. Our experiments over the last few months have proved that this isn’t true. We are indeed able to create personalized sponsored content that provides value to users without jeopardizing their privacy. This is an exciting result because it promises to create a more user-centered model for supporting content on the web.
We have a lot more to do and we’re excited about the opportunity to make the web a better, healthier place.