Mozilla this week announced that it will launch a program called 'Directory Tiles' that will fill those tiles on a new tab with sponsored content. Don't worry, though. If you're a frequent Tom's Hardware visitor, this doesn't mean your Tom's tile is going to be pushed out of the way in favor of an ad. Instead, this program will only affect new users.
"[New users'] tiles – those nine rectangles that populate over time with the most frequent and recent websites they visit – are empty. The new tab page isn't delivering any value for them," Mozilla's Darren Herman explained. "Directory Tiles will instead suggest pre-packaged content for first-time users. 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."
Mozilla says Directory Tiles carries 'inherent value' for users and helps Mozilla become more diversified and sustainable. That said, it's possible some users will see this as black and white as a once ad-free product displaying ads. After all, it's hard not to play the 'what if' game when a company makes a move like this. What if targeting new users is no longer enough? What if, down the road, Mozilla decides to reduce the number of user-generated tiles to six and save the last row for ads?