Pocket to show sponsored content to free users

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 24, 2016

Pocket is a popular "read it later" service that has a strong connection with Mozilla and the Firefox web browser but is available for Google Chrome based browsers, mobile applications and a web-based service as well.

The service is free to use but premium accounts are available for $44.99 per year which add more functionality to the service such as backups of all saved articles and web pages, full text search, and advanced search operators.

Pocket announced recently on the official blog that it plans to add another revenue generating opportunity to the site.

Sponsored Content

In the coming weeks, free users of Pocket may see sponsored content posts on the site or apps when they are using the service.

The company promises that sponsored content on Pocket will be high-quality, transparent, dependent on user feedback, not invasive to user privacy and in user control.

So what does this all mean?

Sponsored content will be clearly labeled as such in the user's list and recommended feed so that it is easy to distinguish between sponsored items and others. The team has not published a screenshot of how sponsored content will look like though which means that it cannot be verified right now.

While there won't be an option to turn off sponsored posts completely without upgrading to a premium subscription, it will be at least possible to hide posts on the site and leave feedback.

Sponsors won't have access to what a user saves or does when using Pocket according to the announcement.

In addition to all that, Pocket promises that sponsored posts will "feel natural" and will be things that users are interested in reading or watching.

What this means, likely, is that Pocket will base sponsored posts on a user's interests. The team has not revealed how sponsored posts are selected for individual users, but it could work similar to how recommended items are selected (so, the more posts of a certain interest you save, the more likely it is that sponsored posts will match that interest).

Additional information about the new sponsored content on Pocket is provided on the official blog announcing the change, and the Pocket Sponsored Content FAQ.

Sponsored posts will roll out slowly in the coming weeks.

Now You: Are you a Pocket user? What's your take on sponsored content? (via Caschy)

Pocket to show sponsored content to free users
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Pocket to show sponsored content to free users
The Pocket Team announced recently that it will begin start to show sponsored content to free users of its service in the coming weeks.
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  1. p3t3r said on March 23, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    Another piece of crap for people who need GPS to find their A55.

  2. e-jambon said on March 1, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    Open source alternative : wallabag. https://www.wallabag.org/
    my two cents.

  3. Perry said on February 28, 2016 at 3:11 am

    It seems that the pocket extension is not available on the firefox addon site anymore, and users can only use the firefox’s build-in version?

  4. Jay thomas said on February 25, 2016 at 5:14 am

    Ahhhh….. Better I didn’t stick around to see this day. I am using Basketapp for 2 months. Lucky to move there before Pocket starting this advertisement thing.

  5. Avi said on February 24, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    Not good. Waiting for “Pocket alternatives” post.

    1. Anonymous said on February 26, 2016 at 12:55 pm

      Have been using Instapaper for years…

  6. Tom Hawack said on February 24, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    I’ve disabled Pocket ever since it appeared here on Firefox, but I do appreciate the ‘Reading Mode’, associated to the former in practice but independent of it in code, fortunately.

    Even free — I mean free, that is ad-free as well — I don’t go for these assistants which follow you as a shadow (Win10’s Cortana, if we meet, will be avoided, if possible). Preferably applications, add-ons which are accessible when you need them. Being rather uncomfortable with all that has to do with automatic operations, and not only for privacy concerns (thinking for yourself is still a nice option), I dare not imagine how I will enter the era of the iOt (or is it IoT?!), this Internet of Things which I am most likely to avoid as a parasite.

    To resume, I like to do things by myself (common point to the poor and to the self-made ones), I love to (try to) think by myself (not reserved to wealthiness), and I hate to be pushed around (who does?).

  7. Ed said on February 24, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    In light of this information does anyone know how to completely disable Pocket in Firefox?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on February 24, 2016 at 6:05 pm

      You can disable Pocket but not remove it completely: https://www.ghacks.net/2015/05/14/how-to-disable-pocket-in-firefox/

      1. Ed said on February 24, 2016 at 6:17 pm

        Thank you Martin.

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