[UPDATE 01.01.2019 – 06:45 CET] Mozilla reached out to us to explain that the Booking.com appearance in the Firefox snippet is not a paid for ad. Justin O'Kelley of the company's communications team the ad was an experiment towards enhancing the user experience:
“This snippet was an experiment to provide more value to Firefox users through offers provided by a partner. It was not a paid placement or advertisement. We are continually looking for more ways to say thanks for using Firefox. In a similar vein, earlier this month we offered Firefox users a free opportunity to enjoy a live concert from Phosphorescent.
In addition to adding value to Firefox users these efforts are intended to support an open ecosystem. When users see such offers no data is being shared with a partner until users have made the choice to enter a relationship. We hope that this strategy sets a positive example.”
[31.12.2018 – 15:59 CET]
Firefox is, of course, an open source web browser developed by Mozilla. It is also the second most popular browser on the market after Google Chrome. Users value the openness of Firefox and its no-nonsense approach. Perhaps those same users will be angered by Mozilla deciding to bake ads into the snippet area of the browser.
Sure, when you are browsing you are confronted by ads on every website. However, these ads are from the site itself, not the browser. Mozilla is changing tactic and is now baking ads directly into Firefox.
The snippet area is where the browser details information about Mozilla services and tips on how to use Firefox. It now seems as though this area will also be serving ads to users. A Redditor has found an ad for hotel aggregator Booking.com in his snippet.
We would guess that Booking.com is not the only company willing to pay for ad space on the snippet, so we expect to see more reports of other ads as time goes by.
The ad is showing in Firefox version 64.0, offering a free $20 Amazon gift card for bookings:
“Ready to schedule that next family reunion? Here's a thank you from Firefox. Book your next Hotel stay on Booking.com today and get a free $20 Amazon gift card. Happy holidays from Firefox. (Restrictions Apply).”
Mozilla has certainly made no secret of its efforts to monetize Firefox, such as recommending a subscription to ProtoVPN. Ads would certainly be an easy and effective way to roll cash through the browser.