Mozilla to Test Sponsored Content on Firefox

In an effort to provide a more personalized Web experience, Mozilla Firefox will display recommended sites when new users open a tab over the coming weeks.

Earlier this year, Mozilla introduced a series of initiatives designed to enhance personalization on Firefox. Among them was the Directory Tiles program, which aims to improve the first-time user experience.

Here’s how it works: Previously, when new Firefox users opened a tab, they saw nine empty rectangles (tiles), as shown below: 

firefoxtabpage

But soon, through the Directory Tiles program, Mozilla will populate these nine tiles with suggested content, including content from across Mozilla properties, “popular websites in a given geographic location,” and “sponsored content” from select partners, which will be clearly labeled, according to Darren Herman, vice president of content services at Mozilla. 

Herman’s statement caused quite a stir, with some users voicing concerns that if Mozilla presents sponsored content on Firefox, the browser will feature an influx of ads.

“That’s not going to happen. That’s not who we are at Mozilla,” says Johnathan Nightingale, vice president of Firefox, in a blog post.

However, according to Nightingale, in the coming weeks, Mozilla will test a mix of their own sites and other hand-picked sites on Firefox’s tab pages. The experiment will target first-time Firefox users because Mozilla doesn’t have any recommendations to make based on their online history.

But he points out that the current tests are purely to get users’ feedback and revenue is not the first priority.

“These tests are not about revenue and none will be collected,” says Nightingale. “Sponsorship would be the next stage once we are confident that we can deliver user value.”

The entire product roadmap was not disclosed. However, as Nightingale indicates, it’s only a matter of time before Mozilla builds the sponsored content, or ads, into the Firefox browser. Moving forward, will the introduction of ads clash with Mozilla’s mission to remain a nonprofit organization that promotes openness on the Internet? Keep it bookmarked.

Homepage image via Shutterstock. 

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