Firefox to sell adverts on new tab pages

12 Feb 2014

Mozilla, the company behind popular browser Firefox, has said it is to sell advertising space on its ‘new tab’ page for new users.

As part of the decision, when a Firefox user clicks on a new tab page, a select number of directory tiles that appear on the page will be paid-for adverts, along with some of the user’s most visited websites.

In the company’s blog post about the decision, Mozilla’s vice-president of content services, Darren Herman, explained: “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 labelled as such, while still leading to content we think users will enjoy.”

Advert turnaround

The decision has been a surprising one, considering Mozilla has been a strong supporter of advert-free browsing. Its latest version of the browser would completely block third-party ad technologies by default.

From this decision, it would appear the company has given into pressure from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), which criticised Mozilla’s decision to block adverts and with one member previously describing the company’s decision as a ‘nuclear strike’ against the advertising business.

As Herman explained, the decision was made after the IAB approached the company to take part in a discussion about the future of advertising on its browser.

“While Mozilla hasn’t always seen eye-to-eye with all viewpoints in the digital content community, particularly the IAB, we think they’d agree that users’ interests should come first, and we want to help their members deliver compelling content to strengthen the web ecosystem. So, when IAB chairman Randall Rothenberg invited Mozilla to participate and share our views at their annual leadership meeting this week, we jumped at the chance.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic