It’s been a few years since Mozilla scrapped its program to show sponsored tiles on the new tab page of the Firefox web browser. Now it looks like the organization is giving the idea another try.

Things are a little different this time around though. When you open a new tab in Firefox you see a mix of content including frequently visited sites and recommendations, which are now powered by Pocket, which Mozilla acquired last year.

Since Firefox 57 “Quantum” was released in late 2017, content recommendations have come from Pocket, and Mozilla has recently started testing personalized recommendations for some users. Sponsored recommendations are the next step.

Initially, Mozilla says only a “small portion of US users” will see sponsored recommendations. But if the move turns out to be less controversial this time than it was the last time Mozilla tried to make money by essentially placing ads in the browser, you can expect it to roll out to more users in the future.

One key difference between these sponsored recommendations and most ads is that Mozilla says none of your personal data is collected or sent to advertisers. Everything happens locally within your browser.

Right now that means that the more you use Firefox 57 or Firefox 58 to surf the web, the more likely you are to get personalized article recommendations for content you’re likely to see. Theoretically the same thing should be true of the sponsored recommendations.

Of course most ads on the internet are tailored to your interests based on your web surfing habits, but plenty of people find those ads annoying. It sounds like Mozilla is betting that at least some people find the tracking of personal data by third parties to be more objectionable than the targeting of ads.

Anyway, Mozilla currently makes most of its money from deals with search providers and donations. Advertising would open up another revenue stream… if Mozilla can find a way to do it without annoying the Firefox user base.

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6 replies on “Mozilla experiments with sponsored Pocket Recommendations in Firefox new tab page”

  1. I hate, hate, hate pocket. I’m one of the users who had sponsored content placed on the google search page, so after allegedly turning off Pocket, only to have it remain, I uninstalled Firefox. I’d love to use FF, but I hate Pocket so much I’ll put up with Google’s crummy ads just to avoid having “recommendations” made FOR me.

  2. I switched to Waterfox, problem gone. Anyone that is considering the use of Firefox Quantum should probably google Mozilla Foundation and George Soros, plus watch the Lunduke Hour on Youtube so you know what you’re getting with usage of Quantum. To me, and yes it is only my opinion….Mozilla Foundation has advertised themselves as a privacy oriented browser…and they are actually quite the opposite. I’m staying far far away from them, although…I do still use Thunderbird e-mail for the time being. If you’re a google chrome user(I would never use Chrome myself)….try iridium browser.

    At the end of the day, you can claim Quantum is faster…but that has NOT been my experience. It was slower, much much slower after the first few days of use. Again…from my perspective…Quantum represents the sell out of their user base from the Mozilla Foundation to special interests. For me…it was the straw that broke this camels back. After 10 years, I will not use them again. Period. End.

  3. So far it has been relatively easy to change settings so you do not see the Pocket content. It is an extra step, but one I have been willing to make. If they make it impossible to hide Pocket content I may have to find another browser (or find a way to disable it).

  4. I like Firefox because it is a non-commercial browser. Start throwing in ads, and I might as well switch to Google Chrome.

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