Ever since I was on the agency side, I wrestled with the idea of Native Advertising because it was a new name for something that already existed. When questioned by the press or clients, I would define native ads as ads embedded into the UI/UX of the site. But who really cares, how is this new?
At Mozilla, we have a super smart team thinking about and building new advertising products for Firefox in our Content Services group. These products started rolling out in November 2014 at global scale and have had some moderate success so far.
We’ve been experimenting with the format of the advertising experiences and have initially settled on the format of the “tile,” the rectangle that appears on your New:Tab page of your Firefox browser. Most modern browsers have these tiles as they provide quick access to your most frequent and recent websites.
Why did we initially pick the tile as the place to begin our experimentation? Because the New:Tab page already exists in the browser and is a place where hundreds of millions of users are used to seeing their tiles, whether or not they realize they are called tiles.
In a conversation today with Dan Greenberg, the CEO/founder of Sharethrough and members of his team, he termed native advertising as “ads that fit in.” When thinking about our tiles ads in Firefox, I would propose and Dan would probably agree that they are native units. The ads fit in naturally without disrupting our users.
So the tough job is on us at Mozilla… now that we’ve found the right spot initially for the adverts (tiles), we need to present our users with quality and relevant content within it. We are working hard on that.