Mozilla Adjusts Sponsored New-Tab Page Testing

by Ostatic Staff - May. 12, 2014

Mozilla has acknowledged that it made a failed attempt to add sponsored tiles to Firefox new-tab pages, which is one of several attempts it has made recently to incorporate ads or ad-like elements to its browser.  However, vice president of Firefox Johnathan Nightingale has now outlined a new pilot program that may resurrect the idea of sponsors for new-tab pages.

According to a post from Nightingale:

"A few months ago Darren posted about some experiments we wanted to do with the new tab page. It didn’t go over well. A lot of our community found the language hard to decipher, and worried that we were going to turn Firefox into a mess of logos sold to the highest bidder; without user control, without user benefit."

"That’s not going to happen. That’s not who we are at Mozilla. But we will experiment. In the coming weeks, we’ll be landing tests on our pre-release channels to see whether we can make things like the new tab page more useful, particularly for fresh installs of Firefox, where we don’t yet have any recommendations to make from your history. We’ll test a mix of our own sites and other useful sites on the Web. We’ll mess with the layout. These tests are purely to understand what our users find helpful and what our users ignore or disable – these tests are not about revenue and none will be collected. Sponsorship would be the next stage once we are confident that we can deliver user value."

The reason Mozilla continues to explore these sponsorship and advertising options is that Firefox is one of the most pervasive applications of any kind in the world. Its ubiquity and reach can translate into new kinds of revenues, as long as Mozilla doesn't ruffle the feathers of too many people.

Its explorations with sponsors and ads have ruffled feathers in the past. We reported extensively on Mozilla's face-off with the Internet Advertising Bureau. In that skirmish, the IAB was angered when Mozilla moved to block Internet cookies by default, which was actually an attempt to protect users' privacy.

As it stands now, users who open Firefox see blank boxes once the browser launches, but as they visit pages, those boxes become populated with links to the sites they visit most. Going forward, Mozilla will replace some of those boxes with recommended sites and paid ads.