Mozilla, the non-profit behind the Firefox web browser, has been exploring new revenue models for the past few years, including options that don’t rely on advertising.

Now the team has launched a “Test Pilot” program for Firefox Better Web, a service that Mozilla first teased last year. It lets you pay a monthly fee to access a number of websites ad-free.

The upside is that you get a cleaner, faster, more secure, and more private browsing experience and your money helps fund Firefox, participating web publishers, and Scroll (the company powering the technology behind Firefox Better Web.

The downside is that Scroll only lists a few dozen popular websites that are participating so far, which means that there’s a good chance that most websites you visit will still try to show you ads, even if you’re paying. You can still get around that by using an ad blocker in addition to Scroll — and you can always ease your conscious by making one-time, occasional, or recurring contributions directly to the websites you visit with your ad-blocking browser (hint hint).

Still, at a time when dissatisfaction with the invasive nature of targeted advertising seems to be on the rise, it’s interesting to see the different approaches browser makers are taking. Google has been taking steps to block certain types of ads by default in its Chrome web browser — but as a company that makes much of its money from advertising, it’s unlikely that Google will block all ads anytime soon.

Mozilla, meanwhile, has been offering “Enhanced Tracking Protection” by default, which blocks many of the third-party trackers that enable ads in the first place. Partnering with Scroll to offer to offer a subscription-based, ad-free option presents a new opportunity to increasing revenue while improving the web browsing experience for its users.

That said, Firefox market share has been diminishing in recent years — according to StatCounter, Firefox accounted for less than 5-percent of global internet usage in February. So I doubt Mozilla’s new Firefox Better Web Test Pilot will have a huge impact on the way the internet works in the short term.

If you want to give the service a try though, Mozilla is offering half-price subscriptions for the first six months — instead of paying $5/month, you can sign up now for $2.49/month at the Firefox Better Web site. You can also sign up now and cancel within 48-hours if you just want to kick the tires without paying a penny.

Oh, and you don’t need to use Firefox to take advantage of the Firefox/Scroll ad-free experience, although Mozilla would obviously prefer if you did. But Scroll also offers extensions for Chrome, Safari, and other web browsers as well as mobile apps and tools.

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4 replies on “Firefox Better Web test pilot lets you surf the web (partially) ad-free for a monthly fee”

  1. I recently had to update my MacBook Pro from whatever the last one that supported Safari extensions properly, because Apple stopped updating the security side of things. Now Im all updated and without ublock and let me say the internet is HORRIBLE, I never realized how much crap I was filtering out. Many sites (you pretty much name the site and its one of them) are now a hairs width away from being called unusable because of the sheer amount of ads and scripted nonsense and it takes so long to finish loading even with a solid multiple mbps connection (often times much more then the actual website content)………..anyways, I feel all of these things are related and that all browsers will eventually try to adopt this “pay for a decent/proper internet experience” business model. Pihole is looking more and more necessary but with DNS requests IDEALLY going encrypted soon, even that won’t work properly for much longer. Ugh, when does it all stop.

    1. Well, if you want to feel really scared and helpless before the corporate machine, imagine entire web pages being behind Encrypted Media Extensions, which is proprietary software google and microsoft have to give you if you want it in your browser (so netflix will work).
      They can do that by having the web page rendered remotely and streamed to your browser, with invisible interactive elements stuck over the parts of the video they correspond to. The only thing you’ll be able to block is the ability to click on the ads.

    2. Same here.
      Should have stayed on High Sierra, not Catalina. But the stupid thing restarted itself which made the update, since I forgot to uncheck Manual Updates on the MBP.

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