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Pop-Up Ads Lead to Consumer Revolt, Ad-Blocking 697

Posted by simoniker
from the in-yer-face dept.
securitas writes "The New York Times' Saul Hansell reports on pop-up advertising and the consumer backlash against intrusive advertising. It's worth noting that pop-ups and pop-unders are the most effective, lucrative and annoying online advertising form. The article discusses the boom in ad-blocker software, with AOL, Yahoo and Google getting into the game. Microsoft says that it will include pop-up blocking in IE when it releases WinXP SP2. According to one pop-under ad agency, 20%-25% percent of Web users have pop-up blocking enabled, double the rate of a year ago - Earthlink's numbers bear that out, with 1 million of its 5 million customers using its ad-blocking software 18 months after release. DoubleClick says that it is 'developing technology that will enable pop-up ads to evade the blocking software.' Why isn't that surprising?"
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Pop-Up Ads Lead to Consumer Revolt, Ad-Blocking

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  • Not just pop-ups (Score:5, Insightful)

    by andyrut (300890) * on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:17PM (#8023988) Homepage Journal
    Flashy, animated image ads on websites are just about as annoying about as much as pop-ups. Fortunately the Mozilla [mozilla.org] family of web browsers allows the user to block images from specific servers, which seems to work well in targeting ad-serving servers (doubleclick.com being one of the worst) yet leaving the ornamental graphics intact.

    Thanks to this, I've pretty much squashed the "Get 1,000 Smileys Free" advertisements.

    Now if there were only a way to block certain Flash advertisements and still be able to watch Strong Bad [homestarrunner.com] answering his e-mail.
    • Re:Not just pop-ups (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:19PM (#8024008)
      For that I use the Flash Click-to-Play module for Mozilla/Firebird.
      Replaces flash with a box of same size with words "click to play".
      Occasionally I tweak the entry it creates in userContent.css to have an opacity of 0.1 too.
      Makes it even less obtrusive.

      • Re:Not just pop-ups (Score:5, Informative)

        by pbox (146337) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:43PM (#8024318) Journal
        Better yet, you can use adblock extension for Mozilla SeaMonkey/FireBird. The latest development branch already can block page elements BEFORE they load. alk about speeding up surfing, when you don't have to wait on doubleclik, googlesyndication, clickserve, hitbox, trafficmp, etc...

        It also can block flash, iframe and java, javascript as well...

        see mozdev [mozdev.org] for install.

        DISCLAIMER: MS IE (l)users need not apply!
        • Re:Not just pop-ups (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19, 2004 @05:18PM (#8024703)

          It also makes it possible to block annoying content using regular expressions.

          I'm using these ones for getting rid of annoying ads:

          • /(^|\b)https?(\:|%3[Aa])\/\/(?:www\d*\.)?(ad[vsVS. ]|banner|counter|track|partner|rcm-.*?)/
          • /(\b|_)((view|page|si[dt]e)?ad([vxs]|frame|vert(pr o)?|log|image)?|adjs|sponsors?|ads[A-Z_][a-z]*|anz eige|aslframe|free2subs|clickTAG|(vertical|h(un)?) ?[Bb]an(n(ers?)?)?|live|qc|werbung|(pay)?track)\d* (_|\b|$)/

          And this one to not load those annoying 1px-spacer graphics nobody needs anymore:

          • /\b(spacer|1?pi?x|clear|(main)?blank|platz|leer|(g reen)?dot)((\b|_)\w+)?\.(gif|jpg|png)(\b|$)/

          Maybe they'll be useful for some of you fellow advertising victims. (But make sure to remove all the spaces which Slashdot automatically inserted.)

        • Re:Not just pop-ups (Score:5, Informative)

          by $calar (590356) on Monday January 19, 2004 @05:33PM (#8024859) Journal
          AdBlock rules! Here's my adblock filter. Look at it, poke at it, make it better, please!

          Maybe we can condense this down to a reg expr.

          [Adblock]
          *.ad-flow.com/*
          *.ad.*
          *.advertisin g.com*
          *.banner.*.*/*
          *.bluestreak.com/*
          *.falk ag.net/*
          *.fastclick.net/*
          *.instacontent.net/*
          *.qksrv.net/*
          *.ru4.com/*
          *.spinbox.net/*
          *.va lueclick.com/*
          */*.advertising.com/*
          */CurrentBa nners/*
          */ad/*
          */ads.*
          */ads/*
          */adserver/*
          * /adsserver/*
          */advert*
          */banner.*.*/*
          */banner/ *
          */bannerads/*
          */banners/*
          */marketing/*
          */qu inst.com/*
          *://*.*/*468x60.jpg
          *_banner.gif
          *ad server*.*.com/*
          *atdmt.com*
          *banner.swf
          *chkpt. zdnet.com/chkpt/gs_pre_sawflash/www.gamespo t.com/promos/*
          *doubleclick.*
          *i.i.com.com/cnwk. 1d/Ads/*
          *mediaplex.com*
          *tribalfusion.com*
          htt p://g.fool.com/art/free/ibd/*
          http://pagead2.goog lesyndication.com/*
          http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?*
          http://stats.cashring.com/ads?*
          http://us.a1.yim g.com/us.yimg.com/a/*
          http://us.imdb.com/google/b ox?*
          http://www.distrowatch.com/images/kokoku/*.g if*
          http://www.resellerratings.com/price-direct-t heinq uirer.pl
          • Re:Not just pop-ups (Score:5, Informative)

            by markfive (167272) <w0c6cxk02@sneakemail.com> on Monday January 19, 2004 @05:58PM (#8025101)
            I seem to block about 90 percent of my ads with these regexps. They take care of quite a few of your "ad" and "banner" filters, all in a nice neat little package:
            /[\W\d][Aa]d(server|s|remote)?[\W\d]/
            /[\W\d][Bb] anner(s|id\=)?[\W\d]/
            /[\W\d][Ss]ponsors?[\W\d]/
            /amazon\.com.*\W(promotions|marketing|merchants|s tores|associates)\W/
            /yimg\.com.*\W(a|flash)\W/

            *The weird spaces are due to Slashdot.
            The rest of my filters are just various adservers like doubleclick, etc.

            It should be noted that it is a good idea to consolidate these filter lists in AdBlock as much as possible due to the way the algorithm works. The longer your list, the slower the page will load.
    • Re:Not just pop-ups (Score:5, Informative)

      by loucura! (247834) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:21PM (#8024029)
      That's easy, download Ted Mielczarek's Flash Click To View Plugin [mielczarek.org], it displays a button instead of the flash animation. If you click the button you see the flash animation.
      • Re:Not just pop-ups (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:31PM (#8024155)
        Wow.

        I want that plugin to work for *all* forms of plugins. I mean, I love Java and Flash, but they are too damn easy to abuse.

        I live in Calgary (Canada, eh?) and the city has Transit schedule information online. However, their main page has a small Java applet that displays the time. That's all it does. I don't want to load the JVM just to hit that page. And I don't think I should have to disable Java in my browser, either.

        Make this work for Java, Flash and Quicktime and I'll be a happy camper!
        • by gpinzone (531794) on Monday January 19, 2004 @05:16PM (#8024679) Homepage Journal
          Use Proxomitron [jd5000.net] and you can make your blocking (or bypassing) site-specific, or even page specific. Best of all, you can use it with any browser since it works as a proxy server on localhost.
        • Re:Not just pop-ups (Score:5, Informative)

          by tklancer (6643) on Monday January 19, 2004 @05:46PM (#8024973) Homepage
          I noted above that AdBlocker for Mozilla now has (in the dev branch) Java blocking. That's uber-cool -- for those of us that use Mozilla. I'll have to check it out, since I didn't know about it.

          But for those of you that don't, or have applets popping up elsewhere (like AIM), I'm working on a java ad blocker that allows you to block specific classes from loading. So, if the JRE gets a request to load a class you don't want to load, it can be replaced with a null, or a junk applet, or any other class you like.

          I'll put up my blocker (requires JDK 1.4 and the ability to set flags for your JDK -- anyone using the Windows Java Plugin should be fine) at http://tklancer.net/javablocker [tklancer.net] in the next few days. It's fairly basic right now -- just a class file, some preference files, and that's it. The process is pretty simple, though -- load a page, note that sucky annoying ad applet loaded, go through the log file I write to disk, and add the class name to the block file. Restart your JRE, and it should be blocked.

      • Flash Manager? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by antdude (79039)
        I would love to see Flash Manager like Image Manager in Mozilla. I want to control which Flash servers to block.

        There are legit Flash that need to be allowed to work.
    • Re:Not just pop-ups (Score:5, Informative)

      by Gruturo (141223) * on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:24PM (#8024070)
      Now if there were only a way to block certain Flash advertisements and still be able to watch Strong Bad answering his e-mail.

      I use Mozilla Firebird and the excellent Flash click to view [mielczarek.org] extension, which only downloads and plays flash content once you've clicked on a message replacing the original content.

      No more of those ugly beasts for me, and I still get to see all legit flash sites.

    • Re:Not just pop-ups (Score:5, Informative)

      by gwernol (167574) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:24PM (#8024084)
      Now if there were only a way to block certain Flash advertisements...

      Agreed, and at the risk of Slashdotting a good guy's website, I'd highly recommend this flash blocker [mielczarek.org]. I installed it a couple of weeks ago and now I don't have any more Flash ads. Its improved my web surfing immeasurably. The trouble with Flash ads is they (usually) have so much animation in them that they draw the attention from the text of the article I'm trying to read. Some sites are now so Flash-ad heavy they're unusuable. Flash Click-to-View is a wonderful tool that lets you view only the Flash content you want to see. Let's hope they incorporate it into the main Mozilla build soon.
      • Remove Flash (Score:3, Informative)

        by bstadil (7110)
        I am using the latest Moz 1.7a (very stable I might add) and it disregards any Third Party add-inns when you update.

        The reason is testing issues not anything to do with third party SW per se.

        One benefit is that I had to reinstall Flash. I didn't get around to doing it for a few days and I realized I could live happily without it.

        Try it you might like it.

      • Re:Not just pop-ups (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Talinom (243100) on Monday January 19, 2004 @05:30PM (#8024825) Homepage Journal
        Try Junkbuster.

        I can block any advertising that I choose. Edit the .ini file and the bad advertising just goes away. You can make the good advertising (i.e. Slashdot's ad server) continue by adding in what you want to see. It is available for at least Linux and Windows. It uses regular expressions to parse all URLs requested. I haven't seen an ad at home (except while browsing Slashdot) for about two years.

        Cookies? I don't need no stinkin' cookies except from sites that I choose. Granted it sometimes can be tough telling where the cookie is coming from, but I feel that it is a small price to pay.
    • Those smileys ads are my favorite--those stupid little creatures in their two frame animations really get a giggle out of me, especially since I can't imagine how they expect to make money off that stuff. The ones that really irk me are the 60fps flashing hot pink and yellow ones that proclaim that I'm a winner!
    • Not just browsers... (Score:5, Informative)

      by T-Kir (597145) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:27PM (#8024110) Homepage

      ...but firewalls and AV software as well.

      My hard drive blew up last week, and when rebuilding my system, I skipped ZoneAlarm and installed Kerio Personal Firewall [kerio.com] instead... an incredible piece of software if I do say so myself, but it also has built in ad blocking (and configurable to add more blocking).

      Not that that matters too much since I am using FireBird, but a two pronged approach is better than one.

    • Re:Not just pop-ups (Score:5, Informative)

      by CaptBubba (696284) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:41PM (#8024292)
      Adblock [mozdev.org]is a much more powerful tool than Mozilla's built-in "block images" feature. It lets you see a list of all blockable elements on a page, with those already blocked highlighted. It can also block flash (has a little tab on the flash animation). It used to not block flash, but now I don't bother to install the "flsh click to view" plugin because I don't need it. This and mouse gestures are all I need.

      It also allows wildcarding, so instead of having to block every single fastclick server, you can just have "*fastclick*" in your preferences and you get 0 ads from fastclick (the one who serves the "1000 free smiley" ads).

    • Re:Not just pop-ups (Score:5, Interesting)

      by adrianbaugh (696007) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:48PM (#8024389) Homepage Journal
      Their "technology to get round adblockers" will have to involve getting a new domain every day if they want to get past the "Adblock" extension. Using http://*doubleclick.net/* as a filter easily blocks any content originating from that domain, even if it's in an iframe. There's the option of "hide ad" (annoying blank spaces) or "remove ad" (ideal, as far as I'm concerned). It's handy for other stuff too, one of the elements I have blocked is "http://192.168.0.1/Images/Maze.swf" which is an annoying animation my router admin page sees fit to throw at me and crashed one version of flash-plugin.
    • I use the "Flash Click to view" plugin (as others have mentioned). I also find the Nuke Anything [texturizer.net] plugin essential. Just right click on an image / animation / paragraph / whatever and select "Remove this object". Priceless.

      cLive ;-)

    • That's right...

      On the web, you can at least do something about most of these animated pop up ads. But I've seen them on TV as well! They haven't appeared here in Europe yet, but I've seen them on some episodes of Southpark and Futurama that I downloaded. In the middle of the show, a small blue backdrop appears in the lower right corner, and in front of it a man in a suit promotes the next show that will be on. It's soundless but animated and extremely annoying. You can't click him away, or even skip
    • Re:Not just pop-ups (Score:4, Interesting)

      by TyrranzzX (617713) on Monday January 19, 2004 @07:04PM (#8025821) Journal
      Go out and get a program named "Proxomitron". Most of the websites it was hosted on were DDOSed out of existance because it is the bane of all advertising on the internet, cept for a few so you'll have to search for it on google or preferable on a p2p app. It is superior to all ad blocking software available. It uses customisable, scriptable filters that block advertising by becoming a proxy server for your computer. (you redirect all of your browser options to 127.0.0.1). It can also emulate different browsers, so you can tell your bank you're actually IE and not Mozilla or Opera.

      As for the flash, it has a flash killer that will replace a flash animation with a link to the flash animation that lets you see the animation when pressed.

      And throw it up on a p2p app if you do find a download. It's in need of hosts and bandwidth.
  • by glinden (56181) * on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:17PM (#8023990) Homepage Journal
    I find it strange that companies like DoubleClick and X10 believe that advertising is most effective when maximally annoying. Google's advertising [google.com] is a perfect example of how targeted advertising -- matching keywords to ads, tracking the effectiveness of ads, and showing ads where they are most effective -- can be quite profitable. And they're doing it with text-only ads, no flash, graphics taking over your entire screen, or pop ups.

    At best, popup ads and other annoyances seems penny-wise and pound-foolish, sacrificing long-term customer satisfaction of the many who are subject to these ads and overall brand reputation for a potential short-term boost in sales from the few customers that do click through on annoying ads. For example, because I hate their ads so much, I would never buy any product from X10.

    But I actually find Google's ads useful and click on them frequently because they're so well targeted to whatever I happen to be looking for. Targeted ads work. They show information or a product that's actually useful to me without getting in my way. Why do other advertisers continue to annoy customers with useless and irrelevant popup ads?
    • by mckniglj (233845) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:21PM (#8024041)
      I agree. Whenever I'm thinking of buying something, I head to google, type it it, and chances are that a nice, non-intrusive text ad will have exactly what I want for a good price. Everyone wins: Me, Google, and the advertiser.

      I will never buy anything from X10 or any other major pop-under company (Orbitz, I'm looking in your direction...)

      • by BoldAC (735721) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:26PM (#8024102)
        I agree. I think most geeks agree... however, most people who buy on-line are not geeks.

        I see people playing those little Orbitz shockwave ads/games all the time at work.

        They may be annoying the hell out of the typical slashdot crew, but I imagine those work really well.

        If I can stretch my assumsions a little further, I believe that's why pop-under ads are so successful. Most users are not uber-geeks... most internet users will blindly click the pretty little boxes that pop-up and attract their attention.

        AC
      • Which companies are these? I haven't seen a popup or pop-under ad in years.
    • by Steve Franklin (142698) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:22PM (#8024042) Homepage Journal
      Customer satisfaction? I make it a point of never buying from ANYONE who pops ME up! X10? Never! Macys? Never! Get the picture? Some folks just have to get hit over the head with a lead weight to get the message.
    • For DoubleClick to compete with the targeted advertising on Google, they would either have to build or buy a fairly robust search engine to put advertising on or provide competing pop-ups when visiting a website - a practice I think recently was deemed illegal (I could be wrong). Google is, in a way, an advertising agency.
    • by Feyr (449684) * on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:23PM (#8024059) Journal
      that's because doubleclick and their customers are selling products that wouldn't sell otherwise: it's crap pure and simple, so they have to be maximally annoying so as to deceptively lure customers to buy their products
    • by duffhuff (688339) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:33PM (#8024190)
      It doesn't have to be annoying, but it will continue to do so. Ads will increasingly become more in-your-face, until such time as we have a massive consumer backlack (and I mean *massive*, but I think we're starting to see the grassroots movment now), or, in the more ideal situation, spammers and other such low-lifes are catapulted into the sun without any sunblock.

      In "The Diamond Age" by Neal Stephenson, adverstising is ubiquitous. Ads are absolutely everywhere, even on chopsticks! One person in the book has her whole body and the strands of her hair tattooed so that she is a walking advertisement. Other people would just sit in their homes mesmerized by the ads everywhere, never really carrying on a conversation or anything else.

      Basically, in that advanced age with nano technology and all, advertisers had basically settled on three things to get people to notice their ads amongst the clutter: tits, cars and explosions. The more in-your-face, gratuituous, outragous, or just plain wierd, the better. They even had ads that played with your peripheral vision, making it look like you were about to be hit by a car, or they'd have to 3d-esque phantom bull-rush you, attempting to get you to flinch.

      Also, some people had special optical implants in their eyes, giving them overlays of various screens of data or something. One person in the book had one of those, and some people in India (I think) hacked into his vision system and ran an ad for a roach motel or something in the bottom right corner of his vision 24 hours a day. He couldn't get rid of it, even when he closed his eyes. He killed himself.
      • by alex_ant (535895) on Monday January 19, 2004 @05:31PM (#8024839) Homepage Journal
        It's amazing how books can be such ominous foreshadowers of the future. In "It" by Stephen King, there is this sadistic monster clown that comes up through the drain pipes and terrorizes little kids. Quite a scary prospect I think - we ought to look very seriously at how we develop our sanitation systems from now on, and keep a steady watch over our kids' bathroom activities in order to keep them from falling victim to these maniacal, killer clowns.
    • Advertising doesn't have to be annoying, but it needs to be effective. If annoying ads are the most effective, then that's what we'll be seeing. It doesn't matter how much consumers complain, or swear that they wont' visit a website again, or whatever... if annoying, intrusive ads continue to get more clicks then "polite" ones, we'll keep seeing them. Actions speak much louder then words in this case.

  • Earthlink is saying that 1 out of 5 of their customers were using their pop-up blocking 18 months after its release - what about Earthlink customers who use another form of pop-up blocking?
    • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:27PM (#8024112) Homepage
      People seem to be unquestioningly talking about 'blocking' pop-ups as though your computer had to actively take measures to avoid these intrusions. But all it means is using a web browser that does not execute the Javascript code. There are plenty of browsers with no Javascript at all, and it is not part of any HTML standard.

      Similarly, using lynx is not 'image blocking'.

      There is a grey area when you try to have Javascript support enabled but limit the things a script is allowed to do. But really this is just closing security holes in the original Javascript specs (popups are a form of DoS attack).
  • not a good idea (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mpost4 (115369) * on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:19PM (#8024003) Homepage Journal
    Is it not illegal to do circumventing of technology. So would this not be a violation of the DMCA. Ok sorry bad joke, but in reality, this would really hurt double click, think about it, there are people that said "we hate pop ups so much we will disable them" and double click is saying not to us, would that not create bad PR for them, if I was looking to do ads I don't think I would use double click because it would just anger people against my product, I don't see web ads as bad, but if some one disables pop-ups, I don't think I would want to have my ad come up as a pop-up that would just put me on their "do not buy from" list. just my 2c.
    • Re:not a good idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by xigxag (167441) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:37PM (#8024251)
      Is it not illegal to do circumventing of technology.

      I wonder about that. How is circumventing my pop-up-blocker against my wishes any different from me circumventing DoubleClick's firewall against their wishes?

      I consider popups a form of DoS. They steal unwanted cycles from my CPU, steal the "focus" of my windows, and impede my work.
  • by shawnce (146129) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:20PM (#8024013) Homepage
    Isn't it nice that they have to wait for a whole XP service pack to be qualified and released before they can get an update to IE so they can block pop-ups, something that most other current browsers provide and some of those for a while.

    That is innovation for ya ;-)
    • Yeh it makes me laugh too. I've been using mozilla for a pretty long time, and recently I was at my parents house and used their computer to check some of my regular sites...holy goodness I was flooded. I wasn't even expecting it, as I had begun to almost forget that pop-ups happen while I'm surfing.

      The most annoying thing is when my parents or grandparents complain about things popping up, and I tell them that I don't have that problem because of my browser. They, of course, don't want to change, simp

  • Feh (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tyrdium (670229) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:21PM (#8024025) Homepage
    Doubleclick is developing a way to get past a popup blocker. Too bad for them there's something called a hosts file...

    127.0.0.1 ad.doubleclick.net

    Bye bye Doubleclick ads...

    • Re:Feh (Score:5, Informative)

      by Tyrdium (670229) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:32PM (#8024163) Homepage
      Oh, forgot to mention. Take a look at Dan Pollock's hosts file [someonewhocares.org] if you want a great premade hosts file that blocks tons of ads and other nasties.
      • Re:Feh (Score:5, Informative)

        by zapp (201236) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:52PM (#8024426)
        A word of caution on using premade hosts files...

        On several windows 2000 boxes I ran into periodic CPU spikes to 100% by SERVICES.EXE (about once every 15 minutes).

        Eventually I realized that I had allowed Spy-Bot Search & Destroy to install its hosts entries to block popups and other sites.

        It seems windows was reprocessing that file (it was quite huge) every few minutes, and was having a hard time with it.

        Not saying this will happen to everyone, but when i deleted that file and hand made a smaller one, the slowdowns went away.
    • Re:Feh (Score:3, Informative)

      by BoldAC (735721)
      For those of you who want to eliminate a ton of ads using this method, you can find several friendly host files on the net.

      Here a couple that I have used:

      mvps.org [mvps.org]

      yoyo.org [yoyo.org]

      AC
    • Only problem is the javascript bugs that occur since the page is referencing some image or file from their site.
    • Re:Feh (Score:3, Funny)

      by catch23 (97972) *
      There's also another really GREAT way of blocking pop-ups. It's called "lynx". Just try to write javascript to pop up another terminal window!!!
  • by Slashdolt (166321) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:21PM (#8024037)
    You realize that if you block pop-ups, that you're stealing Internet service. In fact, this is even worse than what TIVO users are doing by stealing television. At least in TIVO's case, it can't skip over "live" broadcasting.

    You are all just a bunch of sick criminals.

    --
    Jamie Kellner
    Chairman and CEO of Turner Broadcasting
  • by Exantrius (43176) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:22PM (#8024053)
    Why not try and advertise something that someone *WANTS* to purchase-- Maybe *THEN* you won't have to evade a protection I put on my computer because I don't want to deal with your crap.

    Why is this so hard? Google's apparently doing a pretty good job of it-- Sure you need a lot more customers, but for the love of frank, I don't need any goddamned spy cameras, I don't have a babysitter or a cheating spouse, or for that matter a misbehaving dog. /Ex
  • They'll sue MS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WildBeast (189336) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:23PM (#8024056) Journal
    yep, next thing you know, those companies who make huge use of pop ups and pop unders will sue MS for lost revenue :) Will it even surprise you?
  • New front (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pvt_medic (715692) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:23PM (#8024057)
    and how long will it be before some one start fighting witht he claim that the otherones software violates the DMCA. it seam this argument is the way everyone fights things today.
    • Computer misuse (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nuggz (69912) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:30PM (#8024145) Homepage
      Making software that evades my security measures is wrong.
      If I purposely put in place software to protect me from viewing popup ads, and you circumvent it you may be guilty of a "hacking" crime.

      I did not authorize you to pop up ads on my computer, I explicitly configured to prevent this.

      By enabling your software to evade my blocking software you can't claim that you were authorized.
      When I take steps to avoid something, you can't claim implied consent anymore.
  • by pkaral (104322) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:25PM (#8024089)
    It's worth noting that pop-ups and pop-unders are the most effective, lucrative and annoying online advertising form.

    Incorrect. Search advertising such those offered by Google (AdWords), Overture and numerous other players are better in terms of click-throughs, conversion rates, or any other relevant measure of advertising effectiveness. The same goes for online yellow pages advertising.

    The point of these "directional" forms of advertising is that the consumer identifies a need or an area of interest before the ad is displayed. The very reason why this advertising is less annoying - its relevance - is why it is effective.
  • by NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:27PM (#8024114)
    Golly, I'm glad Microsoft is all over this one, because God knows nobody else [mozilla.org] would ever have thought [opera.com] to do it.
  • by The Night Watchman (170430) <smarotta@gmail . c om> on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:27PM (#8024115)
    Doubleclick is attempting to evade the pop-up blockers? See, this is something that's always boggled my mind. People are using popup blockers because they don't want to receive popups. As such, they respond in a hostile manner to popup ads, and may more than likely be dissuaded from using any product advertised in such a fashion. The consumer, by using a blocker, is making a statement that they do not want to be advertised to in this way, that they find it intrusive, and that they will not respond to this form of advertising positively.

    What makes these companies think that finding means to actively go against consumers' wishes will be an effective way to earn their business? It's like the do-not-call registry. If I opt to be put on the do-not-call list, that means I have no intention of buying anything from a telemarketer. As such, the companies are not losing any of my business because I was never going to give them my business in the first place. If anything, they're saving money by not having to waste the 15 seconds it takes to call me and find out I'm not interested.

    Common sense, people...
    • Doubleclick is attempting to evade the pop-up blockers? See, this is something that's always boggled my mind. People are using popup blockers because they don't want to receive popups.

      Maybe they are - or maybe they're customers of an ISP that blocks them, or maybe their corporate sysadmin blocks them. Those are the people they're targetting, those that might not even know they're (mostly) protected by blocking. That's also why spammers try to evade spam filters. They're not after the geek who installs his
  • My View (Score:3, Interesting)

    by $lingBlade (249591) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:27PM (#8024118)
    In my opinion the strength of the computer industry lies in it's ability to solve a given problem with many different tools. There are different programming languages, different architectures... etc etc.

    That's fine and dandy but it obviously works against us in cases like these where pop-up ad's are able to circumvent and/or bypass our attempts to stop them.

    Imagine for a moment that there was only ONE browser to use, one language to program in, one way to view the web (excluding the fights that ensue over who currently controls those types of things). If there were only one way to do things, we'd be able to block these pop-up/under dicks without a problem. Unfortunately with an over abundance of tools available it becomes a (and forgive the analogy) game of push-down/pop-up. We stop them in one area or with one tool and they find a way around it.

    Granted we do the same thing in other industries and sectors but I wonder sometimes if maybe the technology world has gone overboard with it's developing of choices.

    I think choice is fundamentally a good thing, it's necessary and has it's function in the grand scheme of things... but I think it's high-time people organized and started trimming down some of those extranneous choices, not that there has to be *one* way of always doing thing or even *two* or *three*... but for christ's sake, when is it all enough?
  • Where's the facts? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sean80 (567340) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:27PM (#8024122)
    I guess the only real way to reason about this problem is look at the facts, which I myself have never seen. For example, how much revnue does the typical pop-up or pop-under ad campaign generate? How many click-throughs? How does this compare to the number of customers which they lose through frustration?

    I've always thought of keeping a pad and pencil beside my phone, and write down on it every single company which trys to telemarket to me on a Saturday morning. But do I ever do it? No. I'm too lazy. I figure this is what the pop-under advertisers count on. Divide and conquer us, hope we never talk to each other and rise up as a consumer "union," and hope to god I never get around to writing down company names on that pad.

    As people always point out to me, if they actually make more money than they lose doing this, then they'll never, ever stop trying to do it. They'll always find ways to get around the technology, and, knowing, Microsoft, they'll always leave a year-long window open for those advertising mechanisms to work.

    But then, I'm preaching to the choir.

  • by sh0rtie (455432) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:28PM (#8024129)
    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/19/technology/19eco m.html?ex=1389934800&en=5b1cf221151d8850&ei=5007&p artner=GOOGLE">its gonna get much worse [nytimes.com]

    Beginning tomorrow, more than a dozen Web sites, including MSN, ESPN, Lycos and iVillage, will run full-motion video commercials from Pepsi, AT&T, Honda, Vonage and Warner Brothers, in a six-week test that some analysts and online executives say could herald the start of a new era of Internet advertising.

    The new ad technology, from Unicast, an advertising company based in New York, invisibly loads the commercial while unwitting users read a Web page, then displays the ad across the entire browser area when users click to a new page. The resulting ad is identical to TV, whether the user has a high- or low-speed connection. The company says the technology evades pop-up blockers, but the person can skip the ad by clicking a box.

    thanks, no need to remind me to add your servers to the Hostfile Project

    • by Malc (1751) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:59PM (#8024495)
      "Beginning tomorrow, more than a dozen Web sites [...] will run full-motion video commercials. [...] The new ad technology, from Unicast [...] invisibly loads the commercial while unwitting users read a Web page"

      My chosen ISP implements a bandwidth quota and excess charges. Will these web site operators who incorporate full-motion in to their web pages pay for my bandwidth?

      The point's rather moot in my case though. They can kiss my arse as I will continue to avoid IE, and any web site that requires it. I'd like to see them hijacking my web experience considering I use Mozilla and a customised hosts file.
  • by Random BedHead Ed (602081) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:28PM (#8024130) Homepage Journal
    What's really surprising is how few people use these pop-up blocking features and add-ins, even when they are readily available. I spent a long time annoyed by pop-ups so now I use Mozilla Firebird. But I'm a tech support worker, and I regularly run across Mozilla and Netscape users who experience pop-ups all the time. And they do nothing, because they don't know the feature exists in their browser. They endure inconvenence via ignorance.

    Most people don't understand what their computers can do, right now. I regularly amaze the users I support by helping them back up data and so forth, sometimes transferring data - like magic - over the network. People are amazed when they see they can send a document to their friend ... without using e-mail! It's all relatively mundane stuff, but it's beyond the comprehension of people who use computers ... drumroll please ... EVERY DAY OF THEIR LIVES. Think about that. Is there any other industry where regular, daily users of a technology are nevertheless bumbling novices at it?

    I think it will take Microsoft's inclusion of this in IE to really shift these numbers. Until technology is forced upon people, most won't even realize they have the option.

    • by Artifakt (700173) on Monday January 19, 2004 @05:00PM (#8024513)
      "Is there any other industry where regular, daily users of a technology are nevertheless bumbling novices at it?"

      Do you drive?
      • Good point. I do, and in Massachusetts, so I know exactly what you mean. But I think my point is still sound. I know more about the features of my car than most people know of their computer. Where I lack knowledge is under the hood.

        Contrast this to computers, where people are similarly ignorant about what's under the hood (quite understandable for a non-expert), but are also ignorant of the computer equivalents of cruise control, odometer trip measurements, and the presence of both FM 1 and FM2 on the

  • What amazes me... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by devphaeton (695736) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:29PM (#8024137)
    ...is the public's misconception about pop-up ads. Due to the slick marketing of AOL and Earthlink et al, when their screen becomes full of ads, they call up their internet service provider and give them tons of grief. I see my (less than savvy) friends pay fees to companies like AdsGone (i think it's $50/year to use the software) to get rid of "popups" by automatically closing them when they open.

    But the other issue, is that 99% of the time when someone is getting the shit hammered out of them by popup ads it is because they've got about 15 parasites embedded into IE that sits and serves them all day.

    True "pop up ads" only occur when you enter a site, or leave a site, and shouldn't just pop up spontaneously whenever the computer is on, regardless of whether or not you are on the inet. I've seen computers so laden with these that they are completely useless- you start the machine up, and it serves so many ads in the first minute that it crashes. But once again, the customers do not understand this, they simply blame their ISP.

    Finally, the latest thing that i'm seeing (i work in tech support if you haven't figured this out yet)....
    people will call up yelling and screaming and bitching and moaning about all these pop up ads they're getting. So i look at their computer and i start pointing to such things as Precision Time, or WeatherBug, or all these other "adware" programs they've installed as the culprit. They understand it when i tell them, but then i get things like "but i LIKE my Desktop Calender, i don't want you to remove it." or "but i LIKE my Huntbar." or "but i LIKE the MYWAY software, i want to keep it." and stuff. They will bitch about the ads, i tell them why they are getting them, but they don't want to fix it. However, this still doesn't stop them from calling up and bitching about the ads every other week.

    It's a no-win situation for all concerned. I hate blanket statements, but the fact is, most of the people on the internet don't deserve to be there and will always be miserable, no matter how much you try to help them.
  • very simple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Otter (3800) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:30PM (#8024143) Journal
    The problem is this:
    1) Bandwidth is expensive.
    2) Content isn't free.
    3) Web users refuse to pay for the vast majority of their content.
    4) Web users quickly learn to ignore any form of advertising.

    Until that knot is unraveled advertising will get increasingly obnoxious. Look at your spam to see how far a distance there is until rock bottom is hit.
  • by KingJoshi (615691) <slashdot@joshi.tk> on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:31PM (#8024153) Homepage
    When I read the article last night, I was disappointed that they have no mention of Opera or Mozilla. This is the Technology section isn't it? Shouldn't they have some awareness of the built-in Pop-Up blockers? And isn't it important to know (from my understanding) that Mozilla still downloads the ads but doesn't display them? Is that taken into account in any of the statistics?

    Granted Mozilla doesn't have large userbase, but if the Technology section of one of the biggest papers in the world isn't going to report on it, then mozilla will increase user base slower because people won't know about it (since it's reported less in mainstream media) and it reduces the reputation of the paper. I know lack of reporting on this is common, but it still galls me. People continue not to realize that better solutions than MSIE. And the developers continue to develop only for MSIE. and you know the whole routine. it's just sickening...
  • by Lord Bitman (95493) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:31PM (#8024161) Homepage
    Legislation sucks. Can't we just make it illegal to advertise to people who have taken steps to prevent that particular method of advertising from reaching them?
  • pop-up bullshit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by swimfastom (216375) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:32PM (#8024171) Homepage
    "I don't want to see pop-ups blocked," said Matthew R. Coffin, the chief executive of LowerMyBills.com, a site that sells long distance and other services. Pop-up and pop-under ads, he said, attract more people than any other ad format. "People wouldn't click if they weren't interested."

    The toolbar on each pop-up window is often disabled and the window itself just displays a large image which doesn't allow the average web surfer to easily close it. I think most people just click on it by accident or because they don't know what else to do. I am curious to know what the percentage is of people who click on the ads and actually purchase something. I suspect it is less than 1%.

    This is bullshit.
  • Unfortunately.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DarkBlackFox (643814) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:32PM (#8024176)
    DoubleClick says that it is 'developing technology that will enable pop-up ads to evade the blocking software.' Why isn't that surprising?"

    How long did it take the government to act "against" spam? More importantly, how effective has it been? Apparently, not very.

    How much longer will it be until they take notice of popups?

    Certainly something is being violated if users intentionally install software to intentionally block popups, yet these companies persist in developing circumventing measures to bypass the will of the users. At least with television you can change to another channel without getting flooded with ads. With some of these websites, closing one popup results in 3 more, which subsequently results in 3 times 3, and so forth.

    The result is a dramatic decline in quality and content as the ratio of usable information to advertisements online shift, and it's moves like this (developing methods around popup blocking software) which tip the scales towards the ads, and a less usable medium to transfer valid information.
  • by Andy Smith (55346) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:33PM (#8024196) Homepage
    1. I decide I don't like pop-ups.
    2. I install a pop-up blocker.
    3. You use pop-ups to advertise your product.
    4. Your pop-up manages to avoid my blocker.
    5. I see your ad and I think "Oh it's *that* product! Oh well that's okay then, I don't mind at all that *that* product is being pushed at me. I will buy that product immediately!"

    Do you honestly think that's how it will happen?

    If a company's first form of contact with me is showing me a form of intrusive, annoying advert that I have specifically decided to avoid then I will simply *not* buy that company's product! No ifs, no buts, no exceptions to the rule. Annoy me in such a selfish, arrogant way and you lose a potential customer.

    But hey, I'm the only person who thinks that way, aren't I?
    • I think that their thinking is that if their ad can evade the popup, then it is the only ad you see, so you will pay more attention to it.

      Another part of why ads are so annoying is that research shows that people respond to very clear, in your face, obvious, and memorable ads. Since everyone on /. would probably list X10 as one of the most annoying ad campaigns, they are "doing a good job" simply because so many people know who they are.

      However, popup ad blocking evading ads (long convoluted phrase) kind
  • by Luscious868 (679143) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:36PM (#8024237)

    Bring it on Doubleclick! It'll be a fucking frosty day in hell when I ever buy anything from any company that advertises with you. Doubleclick will do all of that work only to have companies that make pop-up blocking software figure out a way to block the new kind of pop-up ads and shut them down again. The problem is that as long as even 0.0001% of users are stupid enough to click the pop-ups and actually buy something there will always be scum sucking, bottom feeding companies that will do what Doubleclick does. It's just like the spam problem. All of us pay because of the few rocket scientists who buy things that are advertised via pop-ups and spam. I just hope these tools don't reproduce, but we all know they will. In fact, they are the type that tend to reproduce most.

    "Hey, what the hell Bobby Sue, let's have another 13 kids we can't afford to feed. Hey, Bobby Sue, lookie here, it says here in my e-lectronic mail that they've get these new fangeled pills that can enlarge my penis. Heeeee hah! I'm saving this here message and if I can't find these babies at Wal-Mart then I'll just click this here website and buy these puppies. Your 4 credit cards aren't still maxed out is they Bobby Sue?"

  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:39PM (#8024281) Homepage Journal
    So... DoubleClick says it's coming up with a way to evade the pop-up blocker.

    I'd imagine it looks something like what sites like www.tek-tips.com are doing [tek-tips.com]. Instead of a top-level window, they do some fancy CSS that slides a box in front of the viewable content on the screen. Tek-Tips is using it as part of their content, because they want to bring something to your attention, but I could easily see this method being abused by annoying ad campaigns e.g. DoubleClick.

    That'll be a lot harder to block, but it'll be blocked eventually. *sigh* just like spam vs. spam blocking, it's going to be another arms race.
  • Much worse... (Score:3, Informative)

    by BJZQ8 (644168) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:44PM (#8024339) Homepage Journal
    What's much worse is the Annoyware/Spyware software that is infecting millions of computers. In the school district I am responsible for, dozens of computers are filled with things like SaveNow, GAIN, n-Case, and many other programs that serve little purpose other than to annoy. Some of them are even extortionate; a program spawned itself and informed the user "Would you like to remove popups?" and prompted them to BUY some rediculous software....when their software was causing them in the first place. Programs like Spybot S&D and AdAware are hard-pressed to keep up with this stuff...and some of it, like RapidBlast, for instance, are almost polymorphic in the ways their authors continually change their methods of "infection." One particular method was to spawn two processes of the same thing, and order the second process to respawn the first if it was somehow terminated. Sneaky criminals, is what they are.
  • by pytheron (443963) on Monday January 19, 2004 @04:57PM (#8024480) Homepage
    A previous slashdot article yielded this gem that I use to block some ads. Thanks to the original poster (several months, maybe a year ago !). Set this as your default stylesheet and you are ready to go.

    *[src*='/ad/'] ,
    *[src*='/ads/'],
    *[src*='/Ads/'],
    *[src*='atd mt.com'],
    *[src*='doubleclick'],
    *[src*='bluestr eak.com'],
    *[src*='us.a1.yimg.com'],
    *[src*='adv ertis'],
    img[src^='http://images.slashdot.org/ban ner/'] {
    display: none !important;
    } /* this hides the usual 468x60 Flash banner ads */
    embed[type="application/x-shockwave-flash"][wi dth= "468"][height="60"] {
    display: none !important;
    visibility: hidden !important;
    } /* this hides the not so usual but very annoying 728x90 Flash banner ads */
    embed[type="application/x-shockwave-flash"][wi dth= "728"][height="90"] {
    display: none !important;
    visibility: hidden !important;
    }
  • by mirio (225059) on Monday January 19, 2004 @05:01PM (#8024519)
    It is amazing to me to observe the two schools of thought these days.

    School Of Thought #1: Doubleclick says that it can legally bypass ad-blocking software to show ads to "customers" who clearly don't want to see them.

    School of Thought #2: It is, however illegal to bypass protections to view media (e.g. DVDs) that one purchases legally.

    These are intangibles bought with money but paid for by consumers.
  • by aepervius (535155) on Monday January 19, 2004 @05:09PM (#8024604)
    If you click on a link it does not display what you request immediatly. In reality they display their advertising on the main window where you clicked the link. And the link you just requested is displayed on a pop up ! The result being, if you blobk pop up you never get what you requested, only the advertising. This is really more than annoying I only saw that once and never came back on the page...
  • by openmtl (586918) <polarbear.btinternet@com> on Monday January 19, 2004 @05:30PM (#8024834) Journal
    Given that the NYTimes article doesn't mention Mozilla or for that matter Opera's pop-up blocker even though Opera was very quick to ship a pop-up blocker there is a deeper story here.

    Earthlink are in competition with AOL for customers. AOL own Netscape and never bothered with a pop-up blocker on Netscape 7.0 even though the Mozilla had it because AOL are in the portal/Advertising business. Thus Earthlink had provided a pop-up blocker because AOL don't and Earthlink were on the prowl for new subscribers and not as interested in pop-up ad traffic.

    Microsft have also not bothered because they too are in the portal business. Microsoft are thus like AOL in that they don't initially care about end-user experience but ad revenues. When the end-user experience becomes painful then they move their products on.

    Opera are NOT in the pop-up ad business and thus have had a pop-up blocker as soon as they could code it. Same with Mozilla.

    As to how much the NYT online is biased by ad revenue is another question but I don't recall seeing any mention of Open Source products being mentioned; just commercial ad-blockers, portal sites and other vendors.

    You make your own call if its information or informercials. Me: I use Mozilla 1.5 and IE/Google - I'm happy.

  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Monday January 19, 2004 @06:27PM (#8025420) Homepage
    The banner and pop-up ad business is interesting. Unlike radio or TV or print ads, it can be tracked much quicker. We do most of our advertising by banners where I work, and it is very scientific.

    For example, I recall once saying that I thought a feature of one of our ads was obnoxious and would certainly cost us sales. So, my boss said "let's test it", and we went over to the graphics department, I described the changes I wanted, an artist made them in a few minutes in Photoshop, and my boss purchased 25k impressions of the new banner. A couple hours later, we had complete stats on how this banner had done compared to other banners we'd run in the same time on the same sites, and knew by exacly how much my banner was worse than the others.

    We constantly tweak our banners, measuring the results. It's very Darwinian.

    What this means is that online advertising isn't like, say, TV ads, where if people skip the ads with Tivo, no one is really going to notice, because there is a lot of fuzziness between showing ads TV ads and getting more sales. If people use banner blockers, we'll notice right away, and be able to tell exactly how it is effecting our ads, and that will be reflected very quickly in what we are willing to pay to show banners, which will in turn very quickly be reflected in what the ad companies will pay websites for banner space.

    There are a lot of useful sites that will simply go away if too many people start blocking ads.

  • by DeadSea (69598) * on Monday January 19, 2004 @07:36PM (#8026157) Homepage Journal
    When I design a DHTML web page I want to make the best user experience possoible. In some cases that involves a pop-up. You know the kind where you click something and you expect to get a popup.

    So people want to block popups. That's fine. I block pop-ups. It just irks me that some of the blockers are not implemented properly. As a designer, I want to be able to detect that the popup has been block and and provide feedback to the user in the form of a message or an alternative. Popups are not appropriate in all cases and some folks don't like them at all. I'm willing to work with blockers. Some of the blockers just don't want to work with me.

    Detecting blocked popups with Mozilla/Firebird this is very easy. It throws an exception that you have to catch. With the Google toolbar it isn't that bad, you get back a null pointer from your window.open call.

    Hower, I can't for the life of me figure out how to deal with either Earthlink or AOL's popup blockers. When they block something you get a window handle back that looks very legit. It has all the field filled in (width, height, content, screen, etc) but the window just doesn't show up to the user.

    Somebody needs to sit down and bitchslap the developers who did the AOL and the Earthlink blockers. They are making the web a mess. Tell them to look over the shoulders of the Google/Mozilla folks.

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