Firefox to have built in advertising soon as Mozilla starts deployment of ‘Suggested Tiles’

The idea of introducing built in advertisements in Firefox web browser which was on hold because users hated it has been silently put into action by Mozilla.

In February 2014, Mozilla announced that it was going to add preset tiles that included ads in Firefox. Users hated the idea and Mozilla put the plan on hold after their criticism. Now, Mozilla has not only brought back the idea of Suggested tiles Firefox ads, it’s has quietly deployed the same.

The plan was to present user with advertisement tiles as homepage when it opened the browser. Internet users who used Mozilla Firefox were angry at this proposal and let their anger be known on various tech forums. Mozilla then put on hold this idea for a while.Now it has been confirmed that the project has been brought into being.

Darren Herman, Mozilla’s VP of Content Services, announced in May 2015 that “Suggested Tiles represents an important step for us to improve the state of digital advertising.”

Then, this summer, Mozilla quietly launched ‘Suggested Tiles’ feature, the organization’s latest commercial ad product. At the moment, Mozilla claims it’s not getting paid for them.

Herman explained, “Since early August, we have been delivering promoted content provided by our first wave of partners including Yahoo, a number of top tier news titles including Fortune Magazine and Quartz, and mission-oriented partners such as the Make-a-Wish Foundation and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.”

 Mozilla claims that “Suggested Tiles ensure that user privacy is respected and maintained by using a minimum amount of non-Personally Identifiable Information (PII) data to deliver relevant ads. There is no user modeling, no sharing of data and no unspecified tracking of behavior–the user can actually explicitly see why Tiles is showing certain content.”

Herman added, “With Suggested Tiles, we want to show the world that it is possible to do relevant advertising and content recommendations while still respecting users’ privacy and giving them control over their data.”

That said, Firefox does send your browser Mozilla interaction history with the Tiles feature, back to servers. Once there, your raw data is stored in the system’s storage and analysis engine, Disco. The aggregated data is then saved to a data warehouse, Redshift. This data is then used to create high-level aggregate reports for advertisers.

Specifically, a Mozilla representative said Mozilla collects the following data:

  • Language preference
  • Tile ID
  • How many times the Tile was displayed
  • Where in the grid of tiles a Tile was displayed
  • What interaction the user has with a Tile:
  • “Rolled over”
  • “Hovered over”
  • Pinned
  • Blocked
  • Clicked
  • Moved

“This data is associated with an IP address and is stored for a maximum of seven days, while Mozilla reports on the performance of the Tile. Then the IP address is removed from the data which is then archived. Mozilla does not create a profile of an individual over time.”

Mozilla is now looking for advertisers. They’ll be starting their search at dmexco, a major global digital economy show in Cologne Germany on September 16 and 17.

Despite of the assurances provided by Mozilla over sharing of user’s data, chances are that user will find its privacy over Firefox a bit open to ad companies. Mozilla may also stand to lose some of its regular users because of this decision.