Mozilla to show advertisements on Firefox 'New Tab' page to new users

Mozilla has announced that advertisements will be displayed to all new users of its popular open-source Firefox browser.

The ads will occupy the square slots on the browser's 'New Tab' page until the user has begun browsing by themselves for a while and hence filled the slots with recent history or pinned favorite sites into the slots.

Mozilla has said in a statement on their 'Advancing Content' blog that it is a part of their attempt to enable new users of the browser to find popular sites, or sites that they may find interesting, more quickly and easily whilst also starting to turn Mozilla into a more profitable organization. They also say that the adverts will be clearly labelled as adverts so that users do not get confused and have released a mock-up of what they may look like on the screen, shown below. Darren Herman, Mozilla's vice president of content services, wrote in a company blog post that "The sponsored tiles will be clearly labelled as such, while still leading to content that we think users will enjoy".

Mozilla's implementation of new 'Directory Tiles' advertisements into their Firefox browser is likely to look similar to this.

The advertisements will be called Directory Tiles and will use a combination of sponsored sites, popular sites based on the location of the user and news from Mozilla to fill in the nine boxes on the New Tab page until the user occupies them with media of their choice. The tiles will appear only to new Firefox users or to people who have re-installed their browser and will disappear once users have browsed enough to replace the Directory Tiles with content more relevant to the user; this process will take between 30-45 days for most new users, according to Mozilla.

Denelle Dixon-Thayer, Mozilla's general counsel and head of the company's business affairs group, said that this led towards fulfilling Mozilla's core mission saying

"We wanted to get away from being this window into the web that doesn’t bring much value [to users]… We looked at it from the perspective of how much value are we bringing to the user? We're not focused on bringing the most revenue into Mozilla."

She went on to say that some people may become confused by Mozilla accepting sponsored ads onto its platform but added that it is really no different than the company taking sponsorship for its default search engine.

Mozilla has not yet stated when Directory Tiles will be implemented but in Darren Herman's blog post he has written that it will be "as soon as we have the user experience right". The change will be rolled out to Firefox on desktop OSes first before Firefox for Android and Firefox OS and Firefox will remain free to use and open-source after the change.

Source: Mozilla via CNET | Image via CNET.

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I don't mind the ads, but what is the best speed dial like add-on that works with the latest nightly UX 30? Something that has at least been updated in 2014. The ones I have found are old and I doubt they even work.

Business is business and software development has never been so worthless with the whole app mentality everyone expects apps to be free or $1.99.. which is evident with apps like TweetBot where they decided to break the mould and charge it's worth, everyone was up in arms, sure it had it's supporters but the complaints rained in.

Mozilla may have funding sources from Google or wherever else but i'm sure they want to find ways to pull in their own stream of revenue should Google decide to end contracts, or maybe they want to move away from Google, who knows what Mozilla are planning in the future?

It would be stupid to expect businesses to not want to raise more money, what business is content with their earnings? Always aim higher... so they are faced with 2 options: charge for the software or run a few ads? The latter is a safer option and it remains free for the masses keeping the majority happy.

Even though we see more ads these days it's much nicer than say 5 years a go when ads were random.. ads now are generally targeted and are relevant to you, the user.. i've found lots of stuff via ads that i would never have found, so as long as they aren't intrusive i'm happy.

Firefox did not block third-party cookies by default in version 22. They announced that they would, but then postponed it "to collect and analyze data on the effect of blocking some third-party cookies." Firefox 26 still doesn't block third-party cookies by default.

Yep, because it breaks stuff and there was a large amount of push back, so now they're working on a way to do it properly.

Yes blocking third party cookies helps stop ad tracking, but it also breaks stuff like the Twitter/Google/Facebook like buttons, stuff like Disqus, etc.

I was upset when I thought they were going to have dedicated permanent ad spaces, but this doesn't seem offensive.

Geezy said,
I was upset when I thought they were going to have dedicated permanent ad spaces, but this doesn't seem offensive.

The change is alright, but it needs to be customizable and if a user wants to turn it off, then make it easy.

Raa said,
Just another reason not to use Firefux.

if you don't like firefox, you could try alternative browsers. Could you provide a better reason not to use firefox other than what you said(it didn't include a reason, only "Just another reason not to use Firefux"?

macel said,
Or rather, still absolutely no reason not to use Firefox.

IF it were not for Firefox we would all be still using IE 6

The_Decryptor said,
That is about:blank, there's a button in the top right to hide/show the site list.
No it's not. If you set newtab.url to about:blank you'll never see that button.

It sounds just like what Opera does...I fail to see the problem. New users to Opera see those exact ads, but they quickly get overwritten..I use Opera, and have never been bothered by them..

I don't often comment on Neowin. If Mozilla Foundation does this I will seek a different browser. Mitchell, what are you thinking? Of course no users want this, at all.

goofy said,
I don't often comment on Neowin. If Mozilla Foundation does this I will seek a different browser.

Why, forgot how to change the settings? A whole lot easier than dealing with the migration hassle, never mind losing out on functionality.

Ah yes, that one second click-click-done must be such a burden, how dare they not tailor the software to your exacting demands. Whatever, if you feel that the inconvenience and time of switching to something else and trying to configure it to your needs is that much easier than changing a single setting, by all means go for it. That's ignoring the fact that since you've apparently been using it for a while, you wouldn't see it anyway.

goofy said,
Why should I have to change settings? I am happy with Firefox and I don't see why I should have to change settings.

Is it that hard to simply change it to how you like it? Also, you could use an earlier version if it bothers you that much.

I hate ads and I will do whatever it takes to get rid of them.

Thank god there is people out there willing to get rid of them for me 24/7 and not be paid by people to remove the filters.

as long as i can turn ads off from about:config, it will be fine, just like i used to turn off ads and offers in uTorrent (before switching to qBittorrent)

but if i have to sacrifice the new tab page (turn it off) i will be going back to the new Opera, or just stop using the internet


if you dont have the freedom to do what you want with a certain thing, there are two solutions, deal with it, or leave

If you don't want to see the links, just use the browser. Any pages you visit will overwrite these suggestions (And it's only for new users, existing users won't see them)

The only way you'd be exposed to them was if you opened Firefox and then just never used it.

I'll take Firefox, or some other Mozilla alternative, before I start using the newest Opera, and I used to love Opera and I've never really liked Firefox!

Been playing with PcxFirefox and Cyberfox some lately. They seem pretty cool.

I have, along with Waterfox and a few others, but the new interface has not hit the stable release yet, so I don't know what they're going to do. Meaning, go minimalistic or use the new look. The next few releases will decide a lot about what browser I primarily use.

So you're sayin the browsing alternative now who's not after my browsing data/habits for the purpose of Ads/tracking is IE11? well, glad I started using it again..

Sad news for the Firefox community whos userbase keeps on dwindling.. while IE11& Chrome(a giant ad datamining company) see growth

I mean this is gonna be just bad. Imaging opening Firefox in Windows 8 mode only to be greeted by a few giant irrelevant Ads, screw that

Dot Matrix said,
This trend of packing ads into every possible thing is really starting to ear thin with me.

...because you've never heard of Adblock. Right.

Dot Matrix said,
This trend of packing ads into every possible thing is really starting to ear thin with me.

As long as it is not intrusive, really no big deal. And for new users only. Now if ads popped up every time a blank tab is displayed or everything you load the program, then the hell with FF and anyone else that does it.

techbeck said,

As long as it is not intrusive, really no big deal. And for new users only. Now if ads popped up every time a blank tab is displayed or everything you load the program, then the hell with FF and anyone else that does it.

It also affects those that reinstall the browser.

Enron said,
Windows 8 included.

there is no ads in Windows 8 and IE.

but there can be advertisements in apps and websites that people use or browse.

link8506 said,

there is no ads in Windows 8 and IE.

but there can be advertisements in apps and websites that people use or browse.

That's what I meant. The bundled apps should be free of ads.

Dot Matrix said,
This trend of packing ads into every possible thing is really starting to ear thin with me.

What's the alternative for Mozilla? They're stuck in a situation where their biggest donor is their biggest competitor. If (unlikely, but not impossible) Google at some point removes their funding, and they don't have an alternate source of income, they're hosed.

I don't have a problem with this kind of ad. It's not a "DOWNLOAD THIS TROJAN" type of advert, it's just a list of "suggested sites", and those who put the most money forward will make it onto the screen, just like the search engine preference scheme they run. The suggested sites list will quickly get overwritten by the list of recent sites that it currently displays too, the ads will only show when you don't have any recent sites (e.g. fresh install, after history cleared, private mode, etc).

techbeck said,

Still no big deal. I never see the current New Tab anyway.

Some people are very sensitive about companies adding anything related to advertising and tend to think its just the beginning.

Dot Matrix said,
This trend of packing ads into every possible thing is really starting to ear thin with me.

As long as it's customizable & or can be turned off in some way, i'm fine with this idea. if the ads did bad things then no thanks.

Meh free still costs money to produce and they don't have a mega-ad company backing it. You got a bajillion choices for replacements anyway for whatever suits your needs.

Max Norris said,
Meh free still costs money to produce and they don't have a mega-ad company backing it. You got a bajillion choices for replacements anyway for whatever suits your needs.

google pays Mozilla 300 millions dollars per year to set google as default search engine. Yes, $300 000 000.

seriously, for a non-profit organization, Mozilla doesn't lack money. Actually, it is even wasting it in futile things like having an office in an expansive place in the center of Paris.

is all that required to build a "non profit" open source browser?

even if google stops its partnership with Mozilla, they sure have still some money left before having to search new funding.

they can't have spent the whole 300millions dollars each year. could they?


anyway, it looks like they want even more money, even if that means milking their users.

link8506 said,
anyway, it looks like they want even more money, even if that means milking their users.

... milking their users how? Assuming you've never used a browser before and have no clue that you can change it to something else or any number of addons that do this exact sort of thing with more flexibility, they drop off after you use the thing and are replaced with sites you visit. I don't much care for ads either, but Jesus some people are making a whole lot of drama about something that's literally changed in a second and doesn't affect you in any way, you don't even have to make any effort if changing your start page is too much work, just you know, browse stuff and it's gone forever.

Max Norris said,
Meh free still costs money to produce and they don't have a mega-ad company backing it. You got a bajillion choices for replacements anyway for whatever suits your needs.

The do actually...isn't Google one of the biggest ad companies?

Max Norris said,

... milking their users how? Assuming you've never used a browser before and have no clue that you can change it to something else or any number of addons that do this exact sort of thing with more flexibility, they drop off after you use the thing and are replaced with sites you visit. I don't much care for ads either, but Jesus some people are making a whole lot of drama about something that's literally changed in a second and doesn't affect you in any way, you don't even have to make any effort if changing your start page is too much work, just you know, browse stuff and it's gone forever.

it's very unlikely that these ads would display only when the browsing history is empty.

otherwise, that would not bring them a significant amount of money, since current users who upgrade would never see the ads.

only new users would see them, until they browse at least 9 web sites, which would happen pretty quickly.

it's very likely that at least 3 items will display ads permanently, for all users. Maybe not initially, but after a while, after seeing if their market share is affected by this decision.

link8506 said,
it's very likely that at least 3 items will display ads permanently, for all users. Maybe not initially, but after a while, after seeing if their market share is affected by this decision.

Very unlikely as their market share isn't all that huge to begin with (never mind they already said otherwise), and again that's working under the assumption that, you know, forgotten how to change it.

Max Norris said,
Meh free still costs money to produce and they don't have a mega-ad company backing it. You got a bajillion choices for replacements anyway for whatever suits your needs.

a bajillion? is that even a number? /sarcasm

link8506 said,

it's very unlikely that these ads would display only when the browsing history is empty.

otherwise, that would not bring them a significant amount of money, since current users who upgrade would never see the ads.

only new users would see them, until they browse at least 9 web sites, which would happen pretty quickly.

it's very likely that at least 3 items will display ads permanently, for all users. Maybe not initially, but after a while, after seeing if their market share is affected by this decision.

Have you even read the article?

The tiles will appear only to new Firefox users or to people who have re-installed their browser and will disappear once users have browsed enough to replace the Directory Tiles with content more relevant to the user; this process will take between 30-45 days for most new users, according to Mozilla.

The best about Fx, you disable everything. I've disable everything new stat page related. And you can even disable taking screenshots of evey site you visit... Just create a boolean in about config, write "browser.pagethumbnails.capturing_disabled" and set it to "true". That's it. The power of choice the reason I love Fx and you've to admit they're trying to make it bette in evey aspect.