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Mozilla Introduces A Subscription Plan For Ad-Free News: Just The Facts

July 18, 2019 Sarah Cavill


The rise of subscriptions across industries has been a growing story in the digital sector for the last several years. Mozilla is the latest company to consider creating a subscription offering for their users.

What Is The Mozilla Subscription?

Mozilla recently sent surveys and invites for a possible beta-launch of what they are currently calling “Firefox Ad-Free Internet,” a $5 per month ad-free news subscription service in partnership with start-up Scroll. Initially it wasn’t clear if Mozilla’s subscription service model would be multiple subscriptions or a bundle that includes VPN, cloud storage and other premium perks. However, Firefox Ad-Free seems to indicate that separate subscriptions are more likely should Mozilla move forward. According to The Verge, the service will “offer ad-free browsing, audio readouts and cross-platform syncing of news articles from a number of websites.”

Scroll is a news subscription start-up service still in beta, but with plans to offer ad-free access to partners Buzzfeed, The Atlantic, SB Nation, Slate and media groups Gizmodo and Vox. Presumably, these partners will be among those accessed through Mozilla’s subscription service. Mozilla also boasts of partnerships with “some of the world’s greatest publishers,” but hasn’t yet revealed who they are. Perks like never losing your spot in an article across devices, top recommended reads and audio versions of articles are also part of the Firefox Ad-Free Internet subscription.

According to Mozilla, “The [Firefox subscription] service enables web users to pay for an ad-free experience on their favorite sites, across their devices. By enabling more direct funding of publishers, Scroll’s model may offer a compelling alternative in the ecosystem. We will be collaborating with Scroll to better understand consumer attitudes and interest towards an ad-free experience on the web as part of an alternative funding model.”

Why Is Mozilla Interested In A Subscription Model?

Although Mozilla is committed to keeping their existing open-source features free, Mozilla also wants to create additional revenue streams. According to Beard, 90% of Mozilla’s business is Google search, which presents an interesting relationship for Mozilla with mega search engine Google. This relationship is part of the incentive to branch off into subscriptions and other possible money-makers. “We [Mozilla and Google] cooperate in many things, and we are fierce competitors. But yes, we have a strong motivation to build deeper customer relationships outside the search business. And we believe that subscription services are one place, a vector we will explore,” said Mozilla CEO Chris Beard.

Firefox Ad-Free Internet isn’t the first subscription service Mozilla has considered. Last October, Mozilla started testing a virtual private network (VPN) subscription plan to a small user group. It was positioned as a test offering access to ProtonVPN for $10 a month. The test has since concluded, with Beard indicating that VPN access may be a part of future subscription offers.

How Can Subscriptions Help Existing Brands?

“A high-performing, free and private-by-default Firefox browser will continue to be central to our core service offerings,” said Dave Camp, Senior Vice President of Firefox, adding that users interested in premium features will have access to those features “without compromising the development and reach of the existing products and services.” Mozilla dipping its toe into the subscription waters is a good example of how established brands can add premium services without compromising their core company messaging and products. Subscriptions can be an effective way to generate revenue, entice new customers and experiment with new services, while still maintaining product integrity across the company.

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Senior Marketing Communications Writer, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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