We’ve received lots of feedback about the Directory Tiles idea I discussed on Tuesday. Some of it was supportive, some of it was curious, some of it was pretty harsh. I’m grateful for all of it, though. It shows the passion and commitment people have for Firefox, and for Mozilla’s mission. I’ve been a fan of Mozilla for a long time, but I’m still new here, and it’s been an education.
I have prepared a FAQ based on the most common questions we have received:
What are Tiles?
Every time a user opens up a new tab in Firefox, the browser displays nine boxes, or Tiles. Frequent Firefox users see screenshots of the websites they visit most often in their Tiles.
What appears in Tiles is currently based on a “frecency” algorithm: your recency of visiting a site and your frequency of visiting a site. Sites that have been visited with the most recency and frequency appear in a user’s Tile.
What are Directory Tiles?
Directory Tiles are a new project from Mozilla, to deliver a better experience for new Firefox users. Because a new Firefox user has no browser history, they don’t see content in tiles when they open a new tab. Our idea with Directory Tiles is to pre-populate the new tab page for those users with sites we think they’ll find useful or interesting.
Will users know which tiles are sponsored?
Yes, the sponsored Tiles will be clearly labeled.
What is the timeline for Tiles?
There’s a lot of questions still to answer about how Directory Tiles will feel in practice, and how we choose the right set. Directory Tiles will go live once we have the details right.
How will Firefox determine which Tiles to show users?
At the outset, Firefox will be rotating content in Directory Tiles for each user to test the results.
How long will a user see Directory Tiles after they start using Firefox?
Our frecency algorithm takes about 30 days of normal browsing behavior to update Tiles.
At that point the user will start seeing content that reflects the sites they’ve recently and frequently visited.
Will Directory Tiles Profile Users to Target Content?
We will use GeoIP to ensure Tiles content is relevant to the user’s location, just as we recognize where a visitor to our homepage came from so we can localize the language, but no other user information is collected or considered.
What information will Mozilla provide sponsored content partners from the Directory Tiles?
Mozilla is putting together just the basic metrics that marketers or content publishers might need to understand the value they are receiving. As of now, our expectation is that we’ll be delivering the number of impressions (how many times a tile was shown) and interactions (how many interactions with a tile, i.e. clicks).
Would a publisher be able to recommend specific articles in a Tile?