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Mozilla scraps in-Firefox ads

Gregg Keizer | Dec. 7, 2015
Not the 'right business for us at this time,' says top ad exec as Mozilla pulls plug on two-year project.

On Friday in the latest version of Firefox, Computerworld saw just one tile with the "sponsored" label on the browser's New Tab display. The tile led to BarkBox, a website that sells dog treats and toys.

According to Herman on Friday, Mozilla will "wind down this experiment over the next few months."

While the idea of running ads in Firefox was not necessarily counter to its professed mission of "a better Internet," it ran up against the expectations of many users, who had gravitated to -- and stuck with -- Firefox because it was the biggest alternative to browsers built by major tech companies, like Apple, Google and Microsoft, all of whom -- Google in particular -- make money on ads.

The decision to scrap the Tiles project may have been due to pushback from users, from within the Mozilla volunteer community -- which Mozilla relies heavily on -- from a lack of interest on the part of advertisers, or a combination of all of the above.

Firefox may not have been an attractive platform for large-scale advertisers because its share of the browser market has been dwindling. Ironically, Firefox's user share -- a proxy for the percentage of the world's PC owners who use it to reach the Web -- jumped in November. According to metrics vendor Net Applications, Firefox's user share climbed by almost a full percentage point last month to 12.2%, erasing almost all of the losses it sustained over the previous 12 months.

Mozilla's browser still lags far behind Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Google's Chrome, however, which in November posted user shares of 50% and 31.4%, respectively.

Firefox new tab tiles
Mozilla is ending a program to include ads in the tiles that show when a user creates a new tab.


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