Browser maker is reluctant to give up on the idea of sponsored content
Back in February of this year, Mozilla's VP of Content Services, Darren Herman, announced plans to sell advertising space in Firefox in the form of sponsored "Directory Tiles" on a new Tab page. These would consist of pre-packaged content for first-time Firefox users -- upon loading Firefox, they'd see a page with nine tiles in three rows of three, and some of the suggestions would be paid-for content, or ads. That idea didn't go over well with the web community, so Mozilla has decided to abandon sponsored tiles and will experiment with the tab page instead.
"A few months ago Darren posted about some experiments we wanted to do with the new tab page. It didn’t go over well. A lot of our community found the language hard to decipher, and worried that we were going to turn Firefox into a mess of logos sold to the highest bidder; without user control, without user benefit. That’s not going to happen. That’s not who we are at Mozilla," Firefox VP Johnathan Nightingale stated in a follow-up blog post.
That sounds like a win for the web community, though Mozilla isn't completely giving up on the idea. Instead, Nightingale says Mozilla will experiment with the new tab page to see if it can make it "more useful, particularly for fresh installs of Firefox, where we don't yet have any recommendations to make from your history."
Mozilla didn't go deep into details, saying only that it will "mess with the layout" to help understand what users find helpful and what they disable. And while Nightingale says "these tests are not about revenue and none will be collected," he did admit that "sponsorship would be the next stage" once the company is confident it can deliver value to Firefox users.