The Psychology of Downloading Firefox

What attributes of a browser are most important to a prospective user when he/she is considering downloading a new browser?

This is a question we’ve set out to answer.  For marketing purposes, for example, this type of knowledge could be tremendously useful for Mozilla.  One of the key learnings that any student takes away from business school is the power of conjoint analysis, which can precisely answer our question.  However, such market research can be time consuming, expensive and often quite complex.  Fortunately, our question is much simpler than the one facing most consumer marketers for two reasons:

  1. Typically with conjoint analysis, each attribute can be broken down into different levels.  As the Wikipedia example points out, the screen format for TVs includes the levels of CRT, plasma, LCD, etc.  But in the case of web browsers, a browser generally either has a feature or it doesn’t, e.g., there aren’t different levels of tabbed browsing as a feature.
  2. The decision being made by a new, prospective browser user is fairly binary in nature.  In other words, it’s either “yes, I’ll download” or “no, I don’t want to download”.  On the other hand, typically with conjoint analysis, a marketer has to design several prototypes of a product and allow the prospective buyer to assign some dollar amount to each feature-level combination (i.e., the results are along a relatively complex spectrum).

Given the situation outlined above, and given that we frequently look for marketing solutions beyond the traditional (e.g., not “let’s hire a market research firm and let them figure it out”), David Rolnitzky and I had the idea of using search marketing to see if we could find the answers to our original question.

In other words, given a control ad variation, what if we swap out a few words of an existing advertisement with a highlight of a new feature in Firefox 3?  For example, a text ad within AdWords includes four lines (text and URLs).  If our existing (control) ad variation has a line stating, “More Customizable!”, perhaps we could rotate other phrases in its place, e.g., “Now with the Awesome Bar!” or “Now with Improved Support!”

If the results show that simply changing one line within an advertisement has a big impact on whether or not prospective new users click on the ad, then we’ll presumably have an idea as to which attributes of Firefox are most important to the user in their download decision process.  Perhaps there are some flaws in our thinking here or in our methodologies, but this exercise seems worth trying given both our situation and the question we’re attempting to answer.

We’re currently in the very early stages of this experiment, so please let us know if you have any suggestions for what Firefox features/attributes (or associated ad phrases) we should be considering.

3 responses

  1. Donnie Berkholz wrote on :

    As a control, you probably want to try saying the same thing in different ways. They do the same thing in properly written surveys.

  2. anon wrote on :

    Not sure about “…there aren’t different levels of tabbed browsing as a feature” – people notice whether or not they can drag the tabs around, or if one tab can crash without taking out the whole program in the process.

    I thought it was reasonably well understood that it was hard to get people to download a browser because: #1 they’ve got one already, thanks; and #2 they only have the vaguest of ideas of the difference between “Internet Explorer” and “Google”.

  3. jardel wrote on :

    thats the big problem indeed, people don’t know what the difference. I use an text ad in my br blog that only show ti ie users saying something like “tired of the slowest Internet explorer? download firefox!”
    other: (the ad shows on top of the page, the first to load) “11 seconds to open this page? dammit, please download firefox and make this faster”

    other more aggressive: “every single error in this page is your browser fault”

    or “see this error in the sidebar? ie fault!”

    some of the rotating text ads i use. they are originally portuguese, then some minor differences there.

    Other thing mozilla could do is give just a javascript to spreadfirefox (selected webmasters) community like adsense saying that you gonna test random ads/phrases for research purposes, don’t waste money in adwords, use the power of the community!