Mozilla has announced it will carry what is effectively display advertising on its new tabs page. It appears to be a minor step towards financial independence.
The change will affect the new tab page which displays thumbnail images linking to nine websites. In normal use, these are personalized to the user, taking into account how often and how recently they have visited each site.
The ads will only affect first-time users who, having no browsing history on Firefox, currently see a Firefox info link and eight empty tiles (pictured). Under the new “Directory Tiles” program, these will be filled with a mix of three types of site:
- Mozilla and Firefox tools and information;
- sites that are popular in the user’s location; and
- sites that have paid to be displayed.
Mozilla says the paid listings will be clearly displayed as such. It hasn’t listed any restrictions on the content or theme of sites that can take advantage of the program, though it would seem sensible to block potentially controversial sites and to ban sites from using misleading domain names and thumbnails.
There’s also no precise details yet on how Mozilla will handle the transition from a new user seeing the “Directory Tiles” entry and building up a personalized set of tiles. In theory the pre-selected tiles should only appear until the new user has visited nine different websites; if they remained beyond that, the program would technically be compromising the browser’s features.
On the face of it, though, it seems a sensible set-up with Mozilla bringing in a little cash in a way that takes advantage of a natural opportunity without compromising its own product.
Mozilla has confirmed the move is partly an effort to diversify its income stream. At the moment the vast majority of its funding comes from a payment of around $300 million that Google makes in return for being the default search engine on the browser. That deal is due for renewal at the end of the year.