Get Firefox campaign pays site owners $1for each person who switches


The browser wars heat up as Explorer destroyer gives away a free IE-detect script that asks IE users to switch, and if they do Google adsense pays referral money. You read that right, Google is paying $1 for each new Firefox user you refer.

Curiosity killed the cat they say, and we simply had to try this out - will people switch? Will this crazy campaign spread to many more sites? Imagine if it spread all over, I'd switch away explorer just to get rid of that ugly bar on top. ;) Web-peer-pressure? We won't keep it up forever - but we must see if it works so lets give it a week.

Firefox, Opera, Safari, Mozilla etc users, see this demo over at to see what you are missing up at the very top of adland these days. Would you participate in this campagn if you had a website+Google adsense? If not, why not? What do you think of this tactic, will it work? Can it work?

Explorer Destroyer

Read more on the background of the campaign here: Explorer Destroyer Open Letter : Why we made this site.

Remember those splash pages on websites that say 'You must be using Internet Explorer to view this page'. What if it was the opposite? What if websites said: 'You cannot view this page with Internet Explorer. Please download Firefox to continue.'
It's a tough strategy. On the one hand, we knew it would convert way more people than classy-but-tiny "get firefox" buttons. But would bloggers and site administrators really put a splash page between 90% of their readers and their own content? Firefox fervor had reached a point where we thought that some people might actually do it, web-designers who do constant battle with IE6's lack of standards support. But we knew a lot of sites wouldn't. And we were really busy. So we tossed the idea onto the ol' idea pile and kept on trucking.

Then a few days ago, Google announced that they would pay $1 for each referral to Firefox with Google Toolbar....

about the author

Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

Comments (9)

  • Dabitch's picture

    Well, after a day I can see that the clicktrough rate is about 0.1%, and out of those who clicked a full 33% actually downloaded Firefox - earning us some ref-bucks. I hope those who gave it a go find that like their new browser-toy.
    The poor clickthrough rate shows I guess that like any other banner, the stuff at the top is easily ignored. ;)

    Dec 03, 2005
  • Dabitch's picture

    Any Internet Explorer users care to comment?

    Dec 07, 2005
  • AnonymousCoward's picture
    AnonymousCoward (not verified)

    Internet Explorer user here!!!

    I have been using Firefox as early as the beta versions, and now I've just decided that IE is better for me. I like the tabbed browsing, but there are just a couple of sites that don't work well with Firefox and I need to use them for work because not everyone is so nice to Firefox users as Ad-Rag, so I am not going to shoot myself in the foot just to spite Microsoft (Ha! I can't work! Now take THAT, Bill Gates!).

    There is also an annoying bug (or maybe they call it a feature) when you make Firefox your default browser in Windows: if you click a link in another program (say Acrobat or Word or Outlook), the link opens in an existing browser window instead of opening a new one, thereby browsing away from whatever that window was on (and erasing whatever data you had entered in the page's forms). Plus, if you add too many extensions in Firefox (and I need some like the Google toolbar), your browser can get really sluggish.

    So for me, no need to advertise: I know about it, I tried it, I would use it for some features but it just doesn't do the trick for me, so the banner is more annoying than anything else because it occupies a good part of the space above the fold!

    On the click-through rate, with any such intrusive ad format you absolutely need to limit the amount of impressions that you subject the users to, because you do get full attention and the users do get the point the first time already! If you're not getting a click the first time, you're just pretty much never going to get it (how about hopes for a waiter who asks you "are you sure you don't want drinks with that? are you really sure? beer? wine? you're going to be thirsty! really, but we have all these nice beers! or a cocktail maybe then?" etc.).

    I would suggest either providing an option to opt out of the banner and/or limiting impressions to one per day or one per session. That's pretty much the policy with all the mainstream interstitials online.

    Now if you tell me they pay you $1 for each download, I could still download it (and then trash it be cause I already have it installed), but that wouldn't really help spread Firefox, would it.


    Dec 07, 2005
  • Dabitch's picture

    Opting out is a good idea, I'll suggest it to those who wrote the bannerscript - I know sod all about java. ;)

    Oh and that bug/feature - you can fix that in preferences > advanced > "open links from other applications in" (option1) a new window, (option2) A new tab in the most recent window or (option3) the most recent window/tab. By default it's the latter, which I think is stupid too.

    Dec 07, 2005
  • kamari's picture

    No, letting people opt out is a shit idea. There are plenty of other browsers they can use if the ad annoys them. That is their only way of opting out, and that is the point. Use Safari, Opera or Firefox or anything BUT Internet Explorer instead. Not hard.

    I hope this campaign spreads to all pages on the web. While Firefox is not my browser of choice (I use Safari), the mere presence of Firefox made Opera go ad-free and IE release a new version. We need the competition to keep moving forward.

    Dec 09, 2005
  • AnonymousCoward's picture
    AnonymousCoward (not verified)

    Well, you can't know how annoying it is if you are using Safari, can you?

    If Firefox WAS better for me, I would use it, but I have tried it and I don't like it. I also don't want to run Firefox just for ad-rag, bc the two browsers at the same time slow my machine down a lot.

    I agree with you that we need the competition, competition is good, which is why everybody should be free to use whatever browser they choose, including IE if that's what they happen to prefer!!

    The day they make Firefox better *for me*, then I'll make the switch. That day has not come and I'm just being considerably bugged here.

    Dec 09, 2005
  • Dabitch's picture

    Well, that experiment was fun but it was never meant to last.

    Shame that Explorer Destroyer never got their 'under 50' bit sorted as I would be curious to see if we could end up on that list. IThe annoying banner-widget brought in some people trying Firefox, and that's nice - but in the end when one can't opt out (as pointed out above) and this is a place where office people hang out all day we can't be carrying that banner.

    Det var kul s

    Dec 13, 2005
  • Andreas-Udd's picture

    Well I'm really glad that you took it down (I have Explorer at work), but I liked the idea still. It's a shame that they still haven't sorted that under fifty page, or created some sort of link back to those who actually used the script. I'd like to see how far it spread and think with return links, it would spread much further.

    Jan 17, 2006

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