Mozilla has been taking heat for promoting Booking.com via a snippet on Firefox’s New Tab page. Contrary to speculation, Mozilla told us that “zero money changed hands.” Also, Firefox didn’t share any data with Booking.com, and the snippet wasn’t targeted.
This is all very interesting because Mozilla’s previous statements didn’t do much to clear this up. Despite Mozilla claiming this “experiment” wasn’t an advertisement or paid placement, Firefox users speculated that Mozilla had an affiliate relationship with Booking.com and Mozilla was receiving payment whenever a Firefox user booked a hotel. Mozilla’s Ellen Canale told us that just isn’t true:
There are no loopholes here. This was not a paid placement or advertisement and Mozilla did not make money off an affiliate relationship. Again, this was simply an effort to provide unique value to Firefox users. Zero money changed hands in either direction.
Some Firefox users have also speculated that Mozilla was targeting this message based on users’ browsing activity, perhaps using the new “Contextual Feature Recommender” feature. However, Canale also told us that no targeting was going on:
The offer was provided to users with browsers set to the english language. There was no targeting based on user activity.
Ellen also clarified that Firefox never shared any data with Booking.com. The only data Booking.com gets is the data you type into Booking.com.
Similar to transactions on most websites, if a user clicked through to Booking.com Firefox page from the snippet, and then decided to book a hotel room, they would have provided their information to secure the booking and the discount. Only at this point is the user entering into a relationship with Booking.com. There was no sharing of user data between Firefox and Booking.com.
We asked whether Mozilla had any plans to accept payment for snippet messages in the future, but we did not receive a further response. We also contacted Booking.com for additional information, but it didn’t respond either.
So, that’s it—this was truly an “experiment” that Mozilla didn’t receive payment in any form for. That seems strange, and it was hard for many Firefox users to believe. But Mozilla says its goal was just “to provide more value to Firefox users.”
Image Credit: David Tran Photo/Shutterstock.com.