Mozilla to kill Sponsored Tiles program in Firefox

The Mozilla foundation, which is responsible for the Firefox Web browser, has announced that the Sponsored Tiles program, which placed ads in Firefox Directory Tiles, will be discontinued within the next few months.

If you have no idea what the Sponsored Tiles program is, here’s a refresher.

Back in February 2015, Mozilla announced that (later in that year) users will begin to see sponsored ads within their Directory Tiles or what’s called Speed Dials in other browsers. It wasn’t very popular then, but sure enough, the program went live in November (2014).

Sponsored Tiles are enabled by default, so on a new installation of Firefox, you’re likely to see a tile marked like the one shown in Figure 1.

Firefox sponsored Tile
Figure 1: A health-related (CVS Health) sponsored Tile in a new tab window of Firefox

Though on by default, disabling Sponsored Tiles takes just a few mouse clicks, so it never bothered me. However, after a little bit more than a year, Mozilla has decided to kill the program. According to an official blog post announcing the decision, Mozilla decided to:

… Stop advertising in Firefox through the Tiles experiment in order to focus on content discovery. We want to thank all the partners who have worked with us on Tiles. Naturally, we will fulfill our current commitments as we wind down this experiment over the next few months.

Advertising in Firefox could be a great business, but it isn’t the right business for us at this time because we want to focus on core experiences for our users. We want to reimagine content experiences and content discovery in our products. We will do this work as a fully integrated part of the Firefox team.

We believe that the advertising ecosystem needs to do better – we believe that our work in our advertising experiments has shown that it can be done better. Mozilla will continue to explore ways to bring a better balance to the advertising ecosystem for everyone’s benefit, and to build successful products that respect user privacy and deliver experiences based upon transparency, choice and control.

So that brings to a close (not right way, but by early 2016), a revenue-generating program for an open source project. I hope Mozilla comes up with another revenue-generating program that will more agreeable to users.

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