In a move that parent company Mozilla says aims directly at protecting consumer privacy, the popular web browser Firefox could soon serve up personalized ads to keep personal information private.
The company expanded a test of its advertising systems focused on privacy to the Firefox 60 beta release, in which sponsored ads serve up in the browser. A small amount of U.S. users will see the test, which begins May 9. Nate Weiner, Mozilla founder and chief executive officer, calls the ads Sponsored Stories in a blog post.
The ads are being targeted toward browsing interests without sharing the data with advertisers. Whether or not the model will work has not been determined. Also in question is whether or not consumers will embrace the new model -- or whether it will make an impact in the browser world.
Firefox owns about 5.44% of the browser market share worldwide as of April 2018, according to Statcounter. Chrome holds the No. 1 spot, with 57.32%, followed by Safari at 13.95%, UC Browser at 7.96%, Opera at 3.83%, and Internet Explorer at 3.2%. In the U.S., Firefox edges up slightly to 5.77% market share.
Weiner explains that Mozilla created the platform in hopes of repairing a “broken” advertising model that gave internet users low quality, clickbait content, and where privacy is not respected and users lack control.
The change aims to increase transparency and give users the ability to personalize the content they see without sacrificing privacy. This is done by giving users quality and control -- so those who see undesirable sponsored content can hide or disable it by opting out of viewing the content.
Mozilla tried a similar advertising approach in 2014 that did not work. This time it is using technology from Pocket, a service the company acquired in 2017, which lets users save websites they might want to revisit.
Pocket recommends websites, but now Firefox plans to offer new recommendations to sponsored sites based on the person’s browsing history.