Mozilla’s Firefox browser has been a thorn in the side of the digital advertising industry ever since it decided to automatically block all third party cookies a year ago.
Advertisers and data collection firms use those cookies to learn about people’s browsing habits so they can target them with ads they’ll be likely to click on, and the cookies have for years been the backbone of the digital advertising ecosystem. The Feb. 2013 move made Mozilla public enemy No. 1 among the online advertising community, and Interactive Advertising Bureau general counsel Mike Zaneis called it a “nuclear first strike against [the] ad industry.”
A year later, the landscape has changed dramatically. The third-party cookie is in decline with major tech companies like Microsoft and Google working to develop their own proprietary tracking technologies. And now, Firefox will be serving its users ads directly from the moment they open the browser.
Mozilla announced on its Content Services blog that when first-time Firefox users open the program for the first time, they will see links to content where the browser usually displays a user’s most visited sites. And some of those pieces of suggested content will be “sponsored content from hand-picked partners to help support Mozilla’s pursuit of our mission.”
Mozilla said the “Directory Tiles” program is being done to make Firefox more sustainable and improve the first-time user experience.
“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,” Mozilla VP of content services Darren Herman wrote on the blog. “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.”
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