Mozilla has started displaying advertisements to Firefox users, in what may be an attempt to ease the organisation’s financial dependency on browser rival Google.
The ads will appear in tiles on Firefox’s new tab page, which until now have been used solely to display the sites the user has visited most, based on their browsing history.
Mozilla insists that the ads won’t use behavioral targeting, and that any data collected from user interaction with the tiles will be anonymised after the company receives it.
Even add-ins such as Ad Block Plus won’t prevent the adverts appearing in tiles, Mozilla admits, although the organisation says that it expects Ad Block Plus to blank out the ad tiles in future releases. Users can choose to switch the adverts off by switching from from “Enhanced” to “Classic” using the Settings icon in the top right corner of the new tab page.
Building ads into the browser is a risky move for Mozilla, which has long portrayed itself as the non-commercial browser maker with users’ best interests at heart.
However, Mozilla desperately needs to find new revenue streams if it wants to ease its financial dependence on rival Google. Around 90% of Mozilla’s revenue comes from the deal that sees Google installed as the default search engine in the Firefox browser.
Mozilla is currently renegotiating its deal with Google, which expires at the end of this month, according to a report on The Register.
The Google search deal was initially struck before Google even made its own browser. With Chrome now firmly established as the world’s second most used browser and Firefox’s market share reduced to only 14%, according to Net Analytics, Mozilla may have a hard time negotiating as favourable terms as it has enjoyed previously.
Somewhat contrarily, Firefox announced earlier this week that it was stepping up protection against behavioural advertising in its browser, as part of its 10th birthday celebrations.