Mozilla Is Pulling Back On Its Foray Into Ad Tech

mozillaMozilla’s decision to bail on its brief romance with its advertising products caught many insiders by surprise. The company said Monday it would end its sponsored tile offering, which it had released November 2014.

Adzerk CEO James Avery, who was involved in briefings earlier this year meant to set the stage for Mozilla’s foray into advertising, said he feels “disappointed this isn’t continuing. We need people like Mozilla pushing the ad world forward.”

He was encouraged by Mozilla’s sponsored tile product, and thought it was doing well.

“They had good performance on an ad unit that didn’t track users or use behavioral targeting,” he said.

So why did Mozilla pull it? Denelle Dixon-Thayer, Mozilla’s chief legal and business officer, didn’t really provide an explicit answer. When asked if Mozilla’s recent advertising announcements reflect any changes in the group’s priorities, Dixon-Thayer only noted that “prioritization is a natural outcome of planning.”

She did not elaborate on how planning lead to the deprioritization of sponsored tiles. She did, however, refer to the ad product as an “experiment” that demonstrated “that users want content that is relevant, exciting and engaging. We proved that advertising can be done well while respecting users.”

It’s possible that compared to the revenue generated by Firefox’s search deal with Yahoo, its ad tiles were insignificant.

But ending sponsored tiles is just the latest example of how Mozilla, which once seemed to take tentative steps toward developing its own ad products, is now pulling back from its experiment.

Consider how Mozilla released a free ad-blocking app last week that was designed exclusively for mobile Safari.

Having seen the effort that went into rationalizing Mozilla’s principles with its ad offer, Avery expected it to expand the product.

“People were looking at them to see if that kind of nonintrusive ad would work,” said Avery. “I thought they had an opportunity to lead by example.”

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1 Comment

  1. When the good guy with high minded respect for the open internet disengage from the most important issue on the interwebs, it is a sad day indeed.

    Mozilla, you were our last hope. To live on the darkside we must.