Mozilla Embraces Native Ads in Firefox Browser

Also developing editorial product called Voices

Mozilla is embracing advertising with sponsored content in its Web browser and potentially within a new editorial initiative it calls Voices. The developer of Firefox announced that it would sell sponsored positions within its desktop browser.

The company developed a native advertising format called Directory Tiles, which will display promoted content to Firefox users.

The ad push came as a surprise in the industry, which typically considered Mozilla to be anti-marketing because of its stance against cookie-based tracking. Mozilla has made “Do Not Track” a mission.

Still, vp of business affairs Denelle Dixon-Thayer said Mozilla is “not anti-ads,” it’s open to any content that brings value to users. Directory Tiles are among that content, she said.

Only new Firefox users would see the sponsored tiles when they open the browser, because that page would be populated later by image links to a user’s top visited sites. There are nine positions on the page, and three of them would be available for sponsored tiles, at first. Also, Mozilla will now serve suggested websites to new Firefox users, who used to just see a blank starting page.

The sponsored content is one potential new revenue source for the company, which is investing in a number of new areas like a mobile operating system. The company also is developing Mozilla Voices, an online media destination, and it’s looking for an editor. Sponsored content could also fit into Voices, Dixon-Thayer said.

Voices would have articles and videos in subjects that align with the company’s open, global mindset, like stories about women who code in Syria, she said.

“It brings interesting content about things our users care about,” she said.

Mozilla also has a revenue deal with Google for search on Firefox, and that partnership is up for renewal at the end of the year. Dixon-Thayer said the push for new revenue does not mean Mozilla intends to alter or end its deal with Google, as some have speculated.

“Our relationship with search partners, including Google are strong, and bring value to us and our partners,” Dixon-Thayer said. “I don’t see that changing.”

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