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Firefox Mozilla Advertising Businesses The Almighty Buck

Mozilla To Show Sponsored Links To First-Time Firefox Users 182

Posted by Soulskill
from the trying-not-to-say-the-word-'ad' dept.
Mozilla has announced a new initiative to show sponsored content within the Firefox browser. Currently, opening a new tab in Firefox will display a set of nine tiles showing your most commonly visited websites. When a user installs Firefox and opens it for the first time, they see these tiles, but eight of them are blank (one links to a Firefox tutorial). As the user browses the web, those tiles gradually fill in with visited sites. But Mozilla is going to fill out those blank eight tiles for new users. They say, "Some of these tile placements will be from the Mozilla ecosystem, some will be popular websites in a given geographic location, and some will be sponsored content from hand-picked partners to help support Mozilla’s pursuit of our mission. The sponsored tiles will be clearly labeled as such, while still leading to content we think users will enjoy." Existing users shouldn't see any difference, and the tiles will be replaced with commonly-visited sites like they do now.
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Mozilla To Show Sponsored Links To First-Time Firefox Users

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  • RIP (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    RIP you were fun while you lasted but now you have sponsored ad browsing based on like's/visits Do not want.

    • Re:RIP (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @06:40AM (#46227127)

      Hold the knee-jerk reaction to the perceived spam and realize what it really means.

      If they are true to their promise, all it really means is that the 9 slots that hold the "most visited" pages in your browser are now, when you do a clean install, not empty as they are now but filled with ad pics. If they keep that promise and don't "secretly" or "accidentally" replace your pages with their ads, I fail to see the harm. As soon as you have "frequently visited" pages, the ad pages are rotated out of existence.

      If that's all it takes them to keep going, well, why'd I complain? It's one more browser to choose from and competition is by definition a good thing. If it becomes actually invasive and if it replaces my frequent pages with their spam pages... NEXT!

      • Re:RIP (Score:4, Insightful)

        by SpzToid (869795) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @07:06AM (#46227205)

        FireFox has done a really good job of keeping itself relevant, along with Chrome. Specifically I am referring to the developer tools. I use FireFox myself, although Adobe mobile developers also have a cool tool to render mobile devices inside the Chrome browser, where they can work using Chrome dev tools. But I still like the new FireFox dev tools better, along with the older FireBug and a few of its odd plugins.

      • by rvw (755107)

        If that's all it takes them to keep going, well, why'd I complain? It's one more browser to choose from and competition is by definition a good thing. If it becomes actually invasive and if it replaces my frequent pages with their spam pages... NEXT!

        Next?

        Next what? IE? Chrome? Opera???

        I hope Firefox doesn't become adware. But I don't mind them using those tiles for ads, as long as they don't track what I browse.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        If I even smell ads I am gone, forever. Previously donated $20 bucks, more than I have ever paid for any browser. So suck it if they want to blow out their base of users.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        It's actually a bit less harmless than it sounds.
        This will primarily affect new installations of Firefox. So if I have just installed my operating system, and I just installed Firefox to be able to use a sane browser to get my anti-virus software, and I open up Firefox, then advertisements show up? Being that people distribute malware through advertising, this seems unpromising.

        Also, how do I make the ads go away? I have the start page, but need to visit 8 other websites, to fill a 3x3 grid? That seems

        • This isn't some random javascript to load unknown ads. This is directly selling the speed dial page slots. There's no way that can be used for malware.
        • I'd agree if they loaded the pages, but this is more akin to putting some favorites into your fav list. Don't click on them and you're good.

    • Re: RIP (Score:3, Insightful)

      by deuce4208 (3466169)
      RIP? If it's just going to fill spots that were blank anyway I don't see what the big deal is. I don't have a problem with that at all. Let them make a little bit of money on new users who will click on those ads. You would have never even known about it had it not been for this article or you did a fresh install of Firefox anyway.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        The blankness was a feature.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The first thing you do with a new OS installation is removing all the bloatware, right? That was just using blank space too.

        Besides, it's a matter of principle, i.e. having a principle and sticking with it. "Users first" is one such principle that Mozilla should have stuck to. Once the user has been turned into a product, the path is chosen. Accepting money from search engines may have seemed benign as long as the choice of search engine was apolitical. Almost everybody would have chosen Google anyway. But

    • by aliquis (678370)

      Worked just fine for Opera! .. or didn't it?

    • Re:RIP (Score:5, Informative)

      by unregistered.coward (2435348) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @06:56AM (#46227173)
      That's a pretty intense over-reaction to Mozilla filling in some previously blank tiles with some temporary filler. That filler disappears as you accumulate visited site and only appears when you actually use the "new" tab.
      • by durin (72931)

        Those ads have to come from somewhere not local to the workstation FF is running on. That means that they eat bandwidth. What if you have a bandwith cap? What if you have to pay for each MB of traffic?

        If they do this, its bye-bye FF for me :(

      • by Raenex (947668)

        That's a pretty intense over-reaction to Mozilla filling in some previously blank tiles with some temporary filler.

        By "temporary filler", you mean advertising. If I want an ad-supported browser, why don't I just use Chrome? At least then I can do away with the phony veneer of a "non-profit" that's concerned about users and not making profit (the truth is Mozilla formed a for-profit corporation years ago to handle the Google mega-millions, so they have no accountability on that end).

        • by Raenex (947668)

          Oh Christ, I just clicked the article. Look at this Ministry of Information, self-serving bullshit:

          We believe that if you put the user front and center, you can make every experience for them richer and more meaningful. The Content Services team has embraced this, and today I wanted to share some of our thinking and explain our first steps for putting it into practice.

          That's right, just what the user was missing from their life. More advertisements!

  • About time! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @06:24AM (#46227075)

    Just today I said to myself, I said, self, how can I possibly get more of those advertisements I get bombarded with everywhere I go? It's as if Mozillia has been inside my head and giving me exactly what I have always wanted my browser to do - GIVE ME MORE ADS! (!!)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I hope all the advertisement is so non intrusive as Mozilla is trying to do, and for all the negative reactions to this, you should realize that that free beer was paid by someone.

    • There's always debian IceWeasel; Firefox minus Mozilla branding.

  • Google reliance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Warbothong (905464) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @07:17AM (#46227253) Homepage

    If this reduces Mozilla's reliance on Google's money then that can only be a good thing. Especially since Mozilla's main sponsor is now also a competitor :/

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Think of it as a way to support Mozilla without making a donation. People who don't like ads will, presumably, grab a plugin that disables them and just cut Mozilla a cheque instead.

      • cut mozilla a check??

        google already bankrolls them!

        fuck that shit. seriously, fuck that. mozilla has jumped the shark and they are basically controlled by google now. 'ads' are yet another money grab and I'm sick of this crap. first time user or not, it does NOT belong.

        how greedy do you have to be in order to both take google's AND insist on extra money from ads?

        sheesh. just goes to prove: projects grow until they finally end up sucking. mozilla has not shown this to be a falsehood, sadly ;(

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      If this reduces Mozilla's reliance on Google's money then that can only be a good thing. Especially since Mozilla's main sponsor is now also a competitor :/

      And where do you think the sponsored links come from? Google is a virtual monopoly on online advertising, has the vast majority of mobile, and is branching out to other forms of advertising.

      Sure Mozilla may be doing it with someone who's "Not Google", but who really knows if they're not some "A Google Company" through many layers of acquisitions (yes, th

  • Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @07:22AM (#46227271) Homepage

    At the end of the day, I still trust Mozilla far more than Google, Microsoft or Apple to respect my privacy.

    • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by squiggleslash (241428) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @08:13AM (#46227413) Homepage Journal

      There's always a knee-jerk reaction to anything related to advertising simply because as a medium it's been abused so much throughout its history.

      Try as I might, I can't really fault Mozilla for the way they're handling this, and yeah, I would like to see them get another source of revenue.

    • by durin (72931)

      I care.

      Who's paying for the bandwidth the ads use up? Probably not Mozilla.
      What if your connection has a bandwidth cap or you pay per MB for traffic?

    • by Hillgiant (916436)

      Remember when you trusted Google more than Microsoft or Apple?
      Remember when you trusted Apple more than Microsoft?
      Remember when you trusted Microsoft? (I kid, I kid (perhaps))
      Being worthy of trust in the recent past does not grant anyone a blank check for current or future actions.

      • by Raenex (947668)

        Remember when you trusted Microsoft? (I kid, I kid (perhaps))

        They were actually more trustworthy when it came to privacy than Google because they made so much money on their OS and other software that they played by old standards that software should not spy on what you do. They wouldn't want to jeopardize that by being sleazy. Times have changed and old standards have eroded. It's pretty much expected now that software is reporting back on you for advertising.

  • you know they are doing things that aren't beneficial for the user when they start making up pretty names... just call it what it is... SPAM

  • by rossdee (243626) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @08:24AM (#46227461)

    So the new version with this sponsorship should be cheaper then?

  • and btw what the quickest way of turning those tiles OFF?? (cover windows and Android please)

    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      Tools > Options

      In general tab "home page" should be set to "about:blank" (without quote marks).
      In tabs tab, "when opening a new tab show" option should be set to "blank page".

  • by tgv (254536)

    I read that Mozilla received $300M from Google, and that that money stops, so they're looking for other sources of income. But that makes me think: $300M? What on earth did they spend it on? Certainly not on a 2000 programmer years.

    • by rjstanford (69735)

      I read that Mozilla received $300M from Google, and that that money stops, so they're looking for other sources of income. But that makes me think: $300M? What on earth did they spend it on? Certainly not on a 2000 programmer years.

      What do you mean, "certainly not"? Their codebase is currently sitting north of 10 million LOC. Depending on their goals, 2000 man-years (design, development, testing, documentation, outreach, etc which could all be done by "developer" types) might not take all that long to go through.

      • by tgv (254536)

        Ok. I had estimated the code base more than an order of magnitude lower. Even 1 million lines seems quite a lot for a browser; 10 million hurts the brain. But you're right, that takes a long time to write.

        • by Nemyst (1383049)
          What did you base your estimate on? A browser these days is such a complex beast. The amount of work done to run on multiple platforms, with platform-specific optimizations (including graphics acceleration), with a JIT Javascript compiler and so much more, is just staggering. Just implementing all the specs (remember, you can't just drop HTML4 or XHTML) would probably gobble up 1 million lines without even starting to think about performance which is absolutely paramount these days.
      • by Reziac (43301) *

        For comparison, Win95 was reportedly 16M lines of code.

        Since when does it take a whole operating system worth of code just to be a browser? No wonder it's so damned slow... and uses more RAM than WinXP.

        Not to mention the memory leaks that get worse and worse (and which appear to be largely due to bad coding Zen wrt caching).

  • Firefox Mobile (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SeanDS (1039000) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @08:50AM (#46227559) Homepage
    Although I don't so much mind this new addition if it brings in revenue to Mozilla, who are a nice company seemingly with the good of the web at heart, they have been playing one underhanded tactic recently with Firefox Mobile. On the mobile version, there is no way to remove the search providers pre-installed in the software (Bing, Amazon, Google, etc.). There used to be a way, but this feature was silently removed. I know I can just avoid using the search features (and untick the setting to automatically suggest search terms based on my input), but I should be able to uninstall search providers rather than give them free advertisement space on my browser.
  • Firefox has jumped the shark.

  • It'd be nice for people who value their privacy not to have their location/IP address sent to advertisers before they've had a chance to deny permission. Should privacy conscious people now disconnect their computers from the internet while installing Firefox? I wonder what the folks at TOR Project will make of this?

  • by guacamole (24270) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @09:25AM (#46227721)

    Considering that Mozilla promised to block third-party cookies by default in Firefox years ago, surely the sponsored links feature is going to take the backseat until they sort out the handling of third-party cookies first?

  • If it's just a link to a website the way tiles normally work? And if the links go to reputable websites? I don't have a problem with Firefox asking Amazon for some money to put them on the front page.
    On the other hand, the tiles could be more like banner ads, flashy spammy things, controlled by a 3rd-party network where Mozilla doesn't have much control over what shows up there. That would suck.

  • I've installed (or helped others install) firefox on a few new machines lately, and noticed that they always fill new windows/tabs with that google search page. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it's a bit redundant, what with the search widget at the upper right. So we've tried to get it to produce that "tiling" of favorite/frequently-visited sites like you see in Opera, Safari, and some other browsers. And we've failed.

    I just tried in this firefox that I'm typing this to, installed about a wee

  • Mozilla To Show Sponsored Links To Last-Time Firefox Users

    FTFY.

  • Aaaaaand back to IE. Have fun with your bankruptcy, Mozilla.
  • by neminem (561346) <neminem@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @01:01PM (#46229699) Homepage

    I already thought the "show pages it thinks you might want to open in a new tab" feature was sort of annoying right when they first released it, ages ago. You can turn the feature off. My new tabs have always been one blank white tile; I can open my own urls, thank you very much. I really couldn't care less what they pre-fill that screen with for people who don't turn the feature off, as long as you can still turn the feature off.

  • Channel Bar.

    Never forget
  • That new tab page is so annoying and unnecessary, now they are going to make it even more so..
  • Mozilla has to make money somehow and be independent from google. But I don't want to see amazon or whatever when I first load firefox. If mozilla gets strapped for cash its very likely that they will move to a model where some of these tabs are always reserved for sponsorship. Slippery slope.

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