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.
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.