Starting on the 9th of May, Mozilla will debut sponsored content in the beta version of Firefox 60, in order to supplement the revenue it earns from Google for having it as the browser's default search engine.
Mozilla acquired the popular read-it-later service, Pocket, in February last year. Pocket makes its money from the occasional sponsored post in its 'Recommendations' feed, and Mozilla intends to extend this aspect of the service into Firefox.
This wouldn't be the first time Mozilla is attempting to push ads through its browser; back in 2014, the company attempted to introduce a feature called 'Tiles' that utilized user data in order to display sponsored websites on Firefox's homepage, plans that it quickly scrapped upon user backlash.
The play Mozilla is making here comes with several assurances to protect user privacy - the company promises that even though the sponsored content will be personalized, all user-data will remain on the user's computer and won't be sent off to a server, with the company reiterating that all of its code is open-source, so any suspicions on how their data is being used can be assuaged by simply taking a peek at the code.
Mozilla stresses that it will never be used to personally identify users, and will only collect information pertinent to "impressions and clicks". Per Nate Weiner, co-founder of Pocket:
We’ve come to accept a premise around advertising today that users need to trade their privacy and data in exchange for personalized, high quality experiences. Our experiments over the last few months have proved that this isn’t true.
This new system will first be tested on a small subset of users in the U.S., and will then gradually be rolled out worldwide afterwards.
Mozilla adds that version 60 will be an Extended Support Release, stating that it will be fit for deployment in environments that depend heavily on browser stability.