Coming soon to Firefox: More ads!

'Suggested Tiles' to appear in beta next week; all users to see ads by default

Mozilla Firefox mug
Areta do Bem (CC BY 2.0)

Mozilla today announced an expansion and rebranding of its in-browser advertisements, now dubbed "Suggested Tiles," that will by default show in the new tab page of all Firefox users.

Those who don't want to see the ads can select an option to make then go away.

The change to in-Firefox ads will hit the beta of the browser "soon," said Darren Herman, Mozilla's vice president of content service, in a Thursday blog post. Suggested Tiles will reach the stable branch of Firefox this summer.

"Suggested Tiles represents an important step for us to improve the state of digital advertising for the Web, and to deliver greater user agency," argued Herman. "We want to show the world that it is possible to do relevant advertising and content recommendations while still respecting users' privacy and giving them control over their data."

The move is an expansion of an advertising strategy that Mozilla first announced in February 2014, then brought to the browser in November on Firefox's 10th anniversary.

That initial work centered on what Mozilla called "Directory Tiles," which were to place ads on the new tab page of only some Firefox users. At the time, Mozilla said that new Firefox users would see the ads, a way to fill some of the thumbnail spots in the new tab page, which for rookies would not yet be populated with websites. Long-time Firefox users were to see no ads, just their most-frequently-visited sites.

Last fall, that changed. "Enhanced Tiles will improve upon the existing new tab page experience for users who already have a history in their browser," said Herman in November.

Today's Suggested Tiles appear to have replaced both Directory Tiles and Enhanced Tiles. The amalgamated term will apply to ads that every Firefox user will see on the new tab page.

Initially, said Herman, users will see advertisements for "Mozilla causes and Firefox products," then later, the slots will be filled by advertisers' wares. Firefox U.S. users will see the ads first; other markets will get them later.

The ad push is an attempt by Mozilla to diversify its revenue sources. Currently, Mozilla books the majority of its income from deals with several search engines, previously Google's worldwide, but since late last year, Yahoo in the U.S.

However, Herman said nothing of the benefit to Mozilla today. Instead, he touted the benefits to marketers. "Suggested Tiles will help advertisers and content owners connect with millions of Firefox users, and do so at a time when the user is receptive to hearing from them, making it a much more valuable connection," he asserted.

In another blog post today, Kevin Ghim, a Mozilla senior product manager, confirmed that the Suggested Tiles ads would debut in Firefox 39's beta next week. The more polished Central build of Firefox 39 is slated to ship June 30.

Ghim also confirmed that every Firefox owner would be subject to the ads by default. "The next step [of Suggested Tiles] is to scale these advances to the entire Firefox population," Ghim wrote.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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