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Is Mozilla breaking the internet for small publishers?

Mozilla is inching closer with its plans to change the way the internet works by offering users the option to subscribe to an advertisement-free Firefox browser

The ad-free internet browser will be available to users for US$4.99 (A$7) per month, with the subscription proceeds to be shared directly with publishing sites read by the subscriber. 

“We share your payment directly with the sites you read. They make more money which means they can bring you great content without needing to distract you with ads just to keep the lights on,” Mozilla explains. 

The browser subscription will also offer audio versions of articles, bookmarks synced across devices, and an app dedicated to helping the user “find and finish great content, all without the distraction of advertising”. The subscription aims to create a seamless integration across all devices: “find a story on your laptop and resume from the same spot on your phone. Need to get in the car? Switch to audio on the go”. 

In February, the company announced that it was exploring alternative funding models for the web, proclaiming “the online advertising ecosystem is broken”. 

“The majority of digital advertising revenue is going to a small handful of companies, leaving other publishers with scraps. Meanwhile users are on the receiving end of terrible experiences and pervasive tracking designed to get them to click on ads or share even more personal data,” the announcement said. 

Mozilla said that the ad-free Firefox subscription aims to put publishers and users at the centre of the online value exchange. This means protecting users’ privacy by curbing user tracking, and working out the best way to ensure publishers can still monetise their websites.

For niche publishing websites, the news isn’t great. Many small publishers rely on display ads to monetise their websites, and it is unlikely that the proceeds from Firefox subscriptions would be enough to offset any losses in display ad revenue based on the size of their audiences. A greater focus on native advertising is likely necessary to survive. 

What do you think? Time to review your digital sales strategy?

Written by Lyndsie Clark

Niche Publishing Network Founder and Editor Lyndsie Clark has over 10 years of niche publishing experience, working in a variety of roles spanning B2B editorial, sales, operations, events, BD, and management.

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