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Bad luck, n00bs: Mozilla to splurge ADS inside empty Firefox tiles

'Directory Tiles' will send surfers to paid-for 'content we think users will enjoy'

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

The Mozilla Corporation has announced that it will soon offer the chance to run advertising in its browser.

Ads will appear in what the foundation is calling “Directory Tiles” that appear when users summon a new Tab into existence.

Explained as something “designed to improve the first-time-with-Firefox experience”, nine Directory Tiles will appear in a grid on each new Tab.

Today, all but one of the Tiles is blank. In future, the following arrangement will apply:

“Directory Tiles will instead suggest pre-packaged content for first-time users. Some of these tile placements will be from the Mozilla ecosystem, some will be popular websites in a given geographic location, and some will be sponsored content from hand-picked partners to help support Mozilla’s pursuit of our mission. The sponsored tiles will be clearly labeled as such, while still leading to content we think users will enjoy.”

Just when the “sponsored tiles” will appear is not certain, but Mozilla veep of Content Services, Darren Herman (whose job blurb says he is is “responsible for diversifying revenue and sustaining Mozilla’s mission through innovation in content and personalization products and services”) says “we are beginning to talk to content partners about the opportunity, and plan to start showing Directory Tiles to new Firefox users as soon as we have the user experience right.”

More interesting is his admission that the new feature “.. helps Mozilla become more diversified and sustainable as a project.”

Mozilla-watchers might be tempted to take that phrase as the Foundation hedging against the possibility its relationship with Google won't last. As we reported last November, Mozilla appears to be very, very dependent on the “royalties” Google pays it for sending search traffic towards the Chocolate Factory. As we noted at the time, finding diverse sources of revenue looks like a very sensible strategy for Mozilla to pursue, not least because Google is rather keen on its own Chrome browser.

Mozilla's annual reports usually land in November, which is when we'll get a clearer view of whether Directory Tiles are a saviour or a new revenue stream. Or maybe both? ®

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