Last year, it looked like Mozilla was about to declare war on the ad industry while the ad industry thought the non-profit had already fired the first shot with its decision to block third-party cookies in its browser by default. It didn't look like things would get better in 2014, but interestingly enough, Mozilla now wants to work with the very industry it scorned last year.
Mozilla's VP of Content Services, Darren Herman, attended the IAB's Annual Leadership Meeting this week to discuss the non-profit's approach to advertising on the Web. As part of his speech, Herman announced that Mozilla would be introducing ads into Firefox through what it calls Directory Tiles. In essence, Mozilla replace the nine blank tiles on the tab page with "pre-packaged content" for first time users.
Here's how Herman describes it:
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.
So, why the sudden change of heart? Mozilla would be the last organization I'd expect to see put ads on their product, but here we are. While Herman says Directory Tiles have "inherent value to our users," he also throws in a bit about how it "helps Mozilla become more diversified and sustainable as a project."
Running a non-profit isn't easy and Mozilla makes most of its money through donations. While it's non-profit categorization will likely not change with this, the introduction of ads will give the organization a new revenue stream to continue its work. The Mozilla faithful can only hope that the introduction of ads doesn't compromise the non-profit's vision of a free and open Web.
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