2014 was an interesting year for Mozilla. Their newly promoted CEO was found to have donated money in support of Proposition 8 in California, the measure that banned same sex marriage in the state, which was ultimately overturned by the Supreme Court. This led to a revolt within the company.
Along with this bright idea, the foundation also decided to try out a weird new feature: extra advertising. In a day when ad blockers are becoming more normal, for better or worse, implemented advertising directly into the browser was a bit of a surprise. The decision caused a lot of backlash from users who were not happy to be forced into ads on their start screen.
Being a free software product, though, everyone should know that Mozilla has to make money somehow to continue producing Firefox. That revenue will not be coming from launcher ads, though. The foundation officially announced that the program will be terminated and replaced with a content discovery platform on the new tab screen. This is more in-line with what the other browsers do, especially Microsoft's Edge.
The blog post announcing the change of policy does not say that Mozilla is out of the advertising business all together. In fact, the author Darren Herman said,
Advertising in Firefox could be a great business, but it isn't the right business for us at this time because we want to focus on core experiences for our users. We want to reimagine content experiences and content discovery in our products. We will do this work as a fully integrated part of the Firefox team.
This means that Firefox hasn't made this decision because of user feedback, but instead because they are focusing their efforts elsewhere. They are likely to revisit the idea of advertising in the future, but not until they restructure their priorities. This announcement will, for now, make users happy, but don't let your enthusiasm cloud your judgement: it's not forever.