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Sponsored Tiles: Coming Soon to a Firefox Launch Page Near You

Sorry this adThe Interactive Advertising Bureau and Mozilla negotiated a cease fire this week at the IAB’s annual meeting. A year ago, Mozilla announced a plan to set all Firefox browsers to “no cookies” by default, leaving up to the consumer to flip the switch for targeted ads. This is like running TV shows without commercials unless the viewer clicks a button to turn them on. The TV viewer may not mind commercials, but they’re unlikely to take any action to change the situation.

At the time, the IAB called Mozilla’s move “a nuclear first strike against [the] ad industry.” Mozilla’s new VP of content services joked about the comment when he joined IAB’s Randall Rothenberg on stage.

“Just looking around making sure there’s no nuclear bombs,” he said. “There’s no nuclear winter coming, the weather is nice out and we’re very excited to be here Randall.”

Joke or not, that kinda stings. . . but down to business. . .the ad business.

Like some other browser we know (Cough-Chrome), the Firefox launch tab has tiles that link to the most recently used or frequently visited websites. Or so they say. My Firefox is up-to-date but doesn’t have this function so I don’t know what’s up with that. . .

Until a person builds up a browsing history, most of the available nine spaces are empty. Mozilla says these empty spaces don’t add value so they’re going to fill them with commonly used websites and . . . here it is. . . sponsored content.

blank_newtabThese spaces are called Directory Tiles and this new plan represents a huge shift in Mozilla’s position on 3rd party cookies. But from their point of view, they’re just giving the customers what they need to use the web more efficiently.

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.

And, presumably, the user won’t have to turn “on” a switch in order to see these sponsored ads.

We are excited about Directory Tiles because it has inherent value to our users, it aligns with our vision of a better Internet through trust and transparency, and it helps Mozilla become more diversified and sustainable as a project. While we have not worked out the entire product roadmap, 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.

So don’t think of these as advertisements, think of them as helpful guides on your internet journey.

On the other hand, the program is only rolling out with a limited number of ads slots and only to new users which AdAge says is about 31 million uniques per month.  Still, it sounds like a good first step toward peace in the internet advertising world.

(Side note: you have to check out IAB’s groovy Privacy Matters website.)