Here They Are: Ads in Firefox

by Ostatic Staff - Nov. 14, 2014

With the launch of version 33.1 of the venerable Firefox browser this week, we're witnessing a momentous new playbook change from Mozilla. Specifically, there are now advertisements in Firefox.

Over the summer, we reported on Mozilla's plans to put "sponsored tiles" in Firefox.  The company even has a support page that discusses the sponsored tiles. Now they are official, and the reports are rolling in about which brand deals Mozilla is making.

According to MediaDailyNews:

"In its first major push into Madison Avenue, Web and mobile browser software developer Mozilla has cut its first deals with big advertisers and at least one big media-buying organization to help it develop ways for brands to participate in a major content play. The deals, which include agreements with GroupM’s Mindshare unit, its client CVS Health, and two independent brands -- travel site and Hollywood studio The Weinstein Co. -- are toes in the water."

Mozilla had posted an announcement months ago about putting "Directory Tiles" in front of Firefox users, which sounded a lot like ads at the time. According to that announcement of the tile scheme:

"Directory Tiles will instead suggest pre-packaged content for first-time users.   Some of these tile placements will be from the Mozilla ecosystem, some will be popular websites in a given geographic location, and some will be sponsored content from hand-picked partners to help support Mozilla’s pursuit of our mission.  The sponsored tiles will be clearly labeled as such, while still leading to content we think users will enjoy."

 According to Mozilla's official announcement of the tiles:

"For users with no browsing history (typically a new installation), they will see Directory Tiles offering an updated, interactive design and suggesting useful sites.  A separate feature, Enhanced Tiles, will improve upon the existing new tab page experience for users who already have a history in their browser. Tiles provides Mozilla (including our local communities) new ways to interact with and communicate with our users."

Mozilla had originally discussed making the sponsored tiles subject to an opt-in or opt-out plan, but some of those plans seem to have disappeared.

Of course, Mozilla does have the right to pursue a sustainable economic model. As things stand, the company depends on Google for 90 percent of its revenues, in exchange for search placement in the browser. That model has to change, and sponsored tiles may be the first step toward such change.