Mozilla Will Sell Ads In Firefox To Create A New Revenue Stream

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Open-source browser Firefox announced in a blog post that it is considering selling ads for its new tab page. Publishers will be able to purchase sponsored tiles that will appear alongside normal tiles, with a clear “promoted” label.

At first, Mozilla just wants to pre-populate the new tab page. When you are using Firefox for the first time, the current new tab page is mostly empty, with just a link to the Firefox website. Similarly to other speed dial features in other browsers, Firefox uses your browsing history to put your most visited websites on the new tab page. But if your history is empty, the new tab page is empty, as well.

That’s why the nonprofit foundation plans to put the most popular websites in your area by default. In addition to that, some spots will be used for promoted tiles.

It might just be a first try to see how users react before pushing promoted tiles to all users in their new tab pages.

For now, the foundation earns most of its revenue from ads in Google. Google and Firefox signed an agreement so that Google is the default search engine. The two entities also share advertising revenue on Google AdWords ads.

And that’s about it — 90 percent of Mozilla’s yearly revenue comes from Google. As Firefox’s market share is shrinking, the foundation needs to find a new revenue stream. While Mozilla used to be one of Google’s major partners, the company may renegotiate a much less favorable deal now that it has its own browser — Chrome is now much more popular than Firefox, as well.

For the last couple of years, Mozilla and the advertising industry have been at odds. The foundation created the do-not-track feature to prevent targeted advertising. When users opt in, the browser won’t accept third party cookies anymore, making it much harder to display targeted ads around the web. Last year, Mozilla even chose to automatically block third-party cookies from websites that you hadn’t visited.

Now, Mozilla wants to play ball with advertisers. It’s unclear when Mozilla is going to show promoted tiles to its new users. The foundation probably wants to talk with potential advertisers first.