February 12, 2014, 1:29 PM

Mozilla plans to present ads in Firefox

When a consumer opens a new tab in the Firefox web browser, it shows her several images, or tiles, of frequently visited sites she can click to load. But with Mozilla’s new Directory Tiles program the browser would enable advertisers to pay to have their sites featured in new users’ tiles.

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Mozilla plans to add ads to its Firefox web browser.

When a consumer opens a new tab in Firefox, the browser shows her images, or tiles, of the nine sites that she most frequently visits. But if a user clears her search history or is a new Firefox user, the tiles are blank. Mozilla says it will enable advertisers to pay to have their sites featured in place of some of those blank tiles. The browser will also fill in those blank tiles with web sites that are popular among other online consumers in the user’s geographic location.

While the nonprofit organization that maintains the Firefox browser says it hasn’t worked out the program’s details, it is talking to potential advertisers about the offering. Mozilla says it will start showing Directory Tiles to consumers “as we have the user experience right,” writes Justin Scott, Mozilla project manager, in a blog post. “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,” he writes.

The move to add advertising to Firefox will diversify the browser’s revenue channels; most of the company’s revenue comes from Google Inc. for making Google Firefox’s default search engine, a spokesman says.

According to web analytics provider StatCounter, which measures more than 15 million page views per month across more than 3 million web sites, Firefox is the third most popular web browser worldwide. In January 2014, 18.9% of global page views were through Firefox, compared with 22.9% through Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer and 43.7% through Google’s Chrome browser, it says.

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