Introducing our experiment with Web Monetization

By Anil Kanji | Nov. 22, 2019

There’s no doubt that the internet has been an incredible democratizing force in connecting creators to audiences. I started my career in music television in the early 2000’s, and watched over several years as both the music and television industries were displaced from their positions as primary content distributors by web platforms that enabled creators to connect more directly with their audiences.

But over the last ten years, this promise has been diluted. The web has gone from a place that rewarded creativity, invention and substance to one dominated by a few advertising-dependent platforms that invasively collect data about us and incentivize short-term engagement over quality content. Creators lose out, and so do internet users.

That’s why Mozilla was thrilled this past September to join with Creative Commons and Coil to launch Grant for the Web, an ambitious initative that supports a new vision for what online content monetization could look like. The grant uses open technology and direct funding to promote alternative and online business models for content that respects your privacy, and in turn promotes a healthier internet. The program consists of $100 million in awards that will promote open-source content and content monetization infrastructure.

Here at Mozilla, we’re inspired by the promise of open standards: to bring better, alternative online business models and openly licensed projects for the benefit of the public good and health of the internet. On a practical level we’re keen to road-test Web Monetization, which is an open standard alternative revenue model for the web. Specifically, Web Monetization is a JavaScript browser API that provides an open, native, efficient and automatic way to compensate creators, pay for API calls, and support crucial web infrastructure (read more about Web Monetization here).

Over the next year, we’re implementing Web Monetization on a few of our own properties, starting with the 2019 *Privacy Not Included buyers guide. To be clear, this content will continue to be freely accessible to all users; we would never put it behind a paywall or require subscriptions. Only users with a Web Monetization enabled extension in their browsers will be aware of the implementation.

Our intention is really to test this out for the creator community, and report back on our experiences. How easy is this to set up? How easy is it to get paid? And how much can you expect to get paid? We’ll be reporting on our experiences with Web Monetization throughout the year; you can read our updates on our blog.

Championing initiatives like Web Monetization and being on the front lines of experimenting with platforms like this are part of Mozilla’s broader efforts to promote initiatives that support a diverse, inclusive, decentralized, open and private web.