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The Almighty Buck

Next-Gen Pop-up Ads 547

bje2 writes "CNet has a disconcerting story about a new generation of pop-up ads that use a "kick through" technique such that you don't even need to click on the pop-up ad anymore, you just need to mouse over, can they make our web surfing experience any worse?"
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Next-Gen Pop-up Ads

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  • This isn't the worst (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ayende Rahien ( 309542 ) on Saturday December 21, 2002 @06:18AM (#4935353)
    In many israelian sites, there are flash commercials that cover the contents, and are very hard to close.
    You surf peacefully, and suddenly the screen is filled with lottery ad and the computer shouts " 50 millions!!! " at you.
    There are other things, like a anti-virus ad that looks like the computer has been compromised, etc, which are just plain agressive.
    • by PurpleFloyd ( 149812 ) <> on Saturday December 21, 2002 @06:46AM (#4935436) Homepage
      That's not just Israel. Even the "big" pages seem to use talking popups, "interstitials" (those Flash monstrosoties that cover part of the screen) or ads designed to look like Windows UI components and warning messages.

      People say that Web advertising doesn't work, but I will click on a banner ad that displays something relevant to me. However, I absolutely refuse to patronize a site that uses popups or any of the above mentioned ad techniques. I don't care that Orbitz will save me several hundred bucks, I use a travel agent (who gets me decent deals anyway). I don't care that I can get nifty-looking spy^H^H^H home-monitoring equipment from; stuff that I might even buy under other circumstances (tiny cameras are neat!). Don't even get me started on the ones that try to defraud me by displaying Windows error messages (in Linux, no less!). These companies will never see a cent from me. Too bad, because they might have something to offer.

      • by rutledjw ( 447990 ) on Saturday December 21, 2002 @02:48PM (#4936843) Homepage
        Really? Here's a competing view:

        "The enormous success for Orbitz is directly related to these pop-unders," said Mark Rattin, creative director for Chicago-based Otherwise. "There's an enormous segment of the population that are appreciating these ads."

        So you're not appreciating these ads? You're clearly in the minority. Further, Orbitz is dependent on these kinds of ads so it can stay in business. I hope you support business, what are you, some kind of communist?

        The problem is that these companies (Orbitz, not the advertiser) don't get that people HATE that crap and they risk alienating their potential customer base. The advertisers are irrelevant since they are a lower life form to begin with and would sell their mother, wife AND daughter if they could make a buck.

        From the statement of the advertising exec, people who don't like this form of advertising are in the minority, and possibly some kind of social deviant. We'll see an increase in this garbage until it becomes economically ineffective (lawsuits, customer non-response, ANYTHING). The other solution is technology, such as browsers that prevent this kind of thing (Mozilla, or my fav - Phoenix), that filter it out. I block unrequested pop-ups and won't install Flash.

        I may sound heartless here, but when people bitch about these ads, I feel little sympathy. There are other browsers (and products in general) out there that actually are built to protect the user. Yet people won't try anything new. Those who act like sheep shouldn't be suprised when they're lead to slaughter

      • About two years ago, I stopped feeling guilty, and said; "FUCK THEM!"

        I now block ad sites with hosts files, use popup-blocking Mozilla, and disable flash.

        Fuck them.

        I pay an ever-escalating fee for my connection.
        If a site can't make it without advertising, then fuck them. They can go out of business for all I care. I don't need it anymore. Slashdot, and Ars Technica, and probably xlr8yourmac are about the only sites I'd really miss. Other than that, the internet is all about P2P, and email for me now (and even email is starting to become "not worth the hassle"). All the other stuff just is not worth this advertising crap.

        And don't beleive that if nobody had blocked ads that it wouldn't have eventually come to this anyway. Those sleazy advertisers will resort to ANYTHING.
        If you don't believe me, why don't you take a weekend trip to Las Vegas, and see with your own two eyes a culture of advertising scams run amok.

        I refuse to do business with them anymore.
  • what's the point? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by firebat162 ( 463459 ) on Saturday December 21, 2002 @06:18AM (#4935356)
    maybe i missed something, but how will this increase revenue for the advertising companies?

    so their websites get more hits. but since they are hits that are basically forced, or unaware hits, how will this increase sales for the product being advertised?
    • by Kiwi ( 5214 ) on Saturday December 21, 2002 @06:34AM (#4935399) Homepage Journal
      how will this increase revenue for the advertising companies?

      Well, see, we are dealing with the accountants of the 21st century. We are in a world where Webvan and Enron were roaring successes because they were able to generate revenue. Never mind other pesky accounting details, like expenses.

      And, well, as we know, in a day and age where the marketing department knows their new pop-up ad is a roaring success because it generates so many clickthroughs. Well, OK, lets ignore such minor details like the ads actually are drag-them-to-our-site-kicking-and-screaming-throug hs, because, as long as we are getting clickthroughs, we have the potential to have all sorts of revenue. In fact, we can call a clickthrough "revenue" since, there is always the possibility that a given clickthrough will actually give us money. Maybe to pay off the company so that the poor hapless user no longer has to deal with our drag^H^H^H^Hclickthrough ads any more.

      - Sam

      • by Andy_R ( 114137 )
        There needs to be some mechanism for people who are blocking pop ups to tell the company that is paying for the pop ups that their money is being wasted.

        I would like to send out a standard form letter to telling them that:
        a) I didn't even see their dumb ad so they wasted nomey on it;
        and b) I will now be avoiding their products because they employ dumb advertising tactics.

        The same goes for large format adverts, and for animated banners.

        btw, if anyone from Sprint is reading this, well done for annoying me with a loop animated piece of crap at the top of the page I'm typing this in on. The product that doesn't work in my country, which I can't buy, because I don't even have any of the type of currency specified. I'd be boycotting you if you actually operated in any territory within 1000 miles of here, dumbasses!
    • by Wtcher ( 312395 )
      I'm sure it'll do much the reverse - the increased hits will eat up more bandwidth but - and this is the big one - these hits will be from people who don't care about the product being advertised, and will likely never willingly come back.

      In the end, it just has the effect of alienating users. I'm sure most of their success metrics (as touted by Orbitz) are of people who won't be back. Hello, turnover rate!
    • by arvindn ( 542080 ) on Saturday December 21, 2002 @06:48AM (#4935444) Homepage Journal

      so their websites get more hits. but since they are hits that are basically forced, or unaware hits, how will this increase sales for the product being advertised?
      Simple. They're selling popup-blockers.
    • It's the same numbers game that the SPAM mongers are playing.

      Ie, if you can get even one half of one percent to buy something, with over 1 million people hitting your site, you still get 5000 customers. If each of those customers buy just one thing, the company is making money off of their "efforts".

      Those who don't like it and don't buy are considered to not have wanted to buy in the first place.

      The same is true of passing out flyers, sending spam emails, or going door-to-door. A numbers game.

      • if you can get even one half of one percent to buy something....the company is making money off of their "efforts". Those who don't like it and don't buy are considered to not have wanted to buy in the first place.

        This works for spammers because they're not going to be around (in that guise) long enough for reputation to be a factor. For well-known companies with a reputation to defend, irritating the heck out of a customer who might otherwise have considered buying from them at a more opportune time is not good business practice.

        The same is true of passing out flyers, sending spam emails, or going door-to-door. A numbers game.

        Flyers- make them pay for cleaning up the subsequent litter, and if it's still cost effective, then... their money, their choice. I notice that most people seem to take them either to be polite or somehow because it's too much hassle to refuse. Most of the time I just react to people trying to hand me a flyer by saying "no thank you" and not taking it. No big deal.

        Same when I buy something small in a shop and the assistant wants to put it in yet another small plastic bag when I already have several. It's less hassle for me to say I'll just put it in my pocket than sorting the bags from the goods and disposing of them later on. And it causes less pointless waste.

        Yeah, spam... no-one's going to defend that, but at least door-to-door salesmen, political candidates, etc. have to get of their fat lazy asses(TM) and face the people they're annoying.
    • by tburkhol ( 121842 )
      but since they are hits that are basically forced, or unaware hits, how will this increase sales for the product being advertised?

      It's the same theory as the cologne commandos in department stores. They know the only reason you haven't bought their product is because you haven't been exposed to it. Any exposure, even that which you would initially consider unwanted or criminal, that exposes you to their product has infinitely greater chance of making you want their product than does no exposure. It's the marketing interpretation of dividing by zero.

  • Easy Fix.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Newer Guy ( 520108 ) on Saturday December 21, 2002 @06:20AM (#4935360)
    Use Mozilla or Phoenix or Netscape 7.1 and turn them off. Probolem solved!
    • Re:Easy Fix.... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Saturday December 21, 2002 @06:44AM (#4935432) Journal
      Use Mozilla or Phoenix or Netscape 7.1 and turn them off. Probolem solved!

      Nah, I don't think so. Doesn't Mozilla/Phoenix block the javascript open() on the onLoad event? These new popups were probably made to circumvent that kind of protection by using javascript open() on the onMouseOver event.

      I don't think Mozilla blocks all open() calls regardless what since then a lot of web sites I've visited that popup stuff when you click on a link shouldn't work.
      • Depends on what you set. Mozilla has a long list of javascript permissions you can turn on or off. I believe the "nix unrequested popups" box ignores all new windows unless they're created by an onClick event. It sounds like these ads are of the "onMouseOver = 'go somewhere stupid'" type. The Mozilla option to disallow javascript changing the page you are at would fix that too.

        Or you could just turn javascript off completely.
      • That's not at all what this article says. It's talking about mouse overs on the popup, not on the content page that spawns it (so an actual browser can still stop them). That said, you've probably just given some marketdroids an evil idea: popup minesweeper...
    • Re:Easier Fix.... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nautical9 ( 469723 )
      Turn off all javascript, sound, flash, shockwave, and other scripting techs... then you're safe. Oh, wait... then turn off all graphix & sound... then turn off that nasty CSS formatting most sites use nowadays (god I hate fonts)... then remove colors...

      Weeeeee. We're in Surfin' Heaven! Nothin' like a B&W mono-spaced equally-formatted no-graphics page to inspire me...

      Ok, maybe going a little too far... but these new methods of introducing dynamic content to an otherwise static medium actually CAN be useful, in the right hands.

      In fact, all of them were developed with good intentions, and all can be used with purpose - it's just the few sockcuckers out there who take advantage of them that ruin it for the rest of us.

      • Re:Easier Fix.... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by arvindn ( 542080 ) on Saturday December 21, 2002 @07:09AM (#4935486) Homepage Journal
        but these new methods of introducing dynamic content to an otherwise static medium actually CAN be useful, in the right hands.

        Really? Care to point out a single constructive use of popups? (If I really want to open a link in a new window, I middle click it, period.) What about <blink>?

        The web was designed for user control of presentation. Technologies that attempt to subvert this paradigm are *evil*. If you've got a good browser, you can only take what's good and throw out the rest (For example, in mozilla you can enable javascript but prevent javascript from opening popups). If you haven't got a good browser, switch.

        • Re:Easier Fix.... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by nautical9 ( 469723 ) on Saturday December 21, 2002 @07:58AM (#4935575) Homepage
          Care to point out a single constructive use of popups?
          How about a login/password box (and NOT using the antiquated HTTP method of authenication - for one, it has no way to "logout" a user). OR any quick dialog box that requires a yes/no/cancel interaction. OR one that validates user input (removing the slow interaction between server and client just to confirm they actually typed something useful into the text box)

          Almost every executible GUI program we use today has many of these kinds of "pop-up" dialog boxes - some more complicated than others (from confirmation dialogs to config screens). And all of them serve a useful purpose.

          I'm a firm believer that developing apps using HTTP/(X)HTML as an interface is a smart move, as opposed to writing an executible for a specific platform - since it is a true write-once, run-anywhere tech (well, access-anywhere, at least from as far as client access is concerned.) And there's no reason we, as web developers, shouldn't be able to use pop-up windows for web-enabled apps.

          Just because commercial sites the world over have abused pop-(up|under)s, doesn't mean the technology itself is useless.

          ps. - I realize Mozilla allows you to disable scripts from opening "unrequested" windows (ie. where any "" call is ignored, unless it applies to link you just clicked), but for a complicated site with various domains (eg. secure/non-secure), or other complications, it still isn't a robust enough solution to those of use developing true web-enabled applications.

          • OR one that validates user input (removing the slow interaction between server and client just to confirm they actually typed something useful into the text box)

            You still need to validate the data server-side. It's not exactly smart practice to trust ANYTHING that is "validated" only from the client-side, especially with javascript. A malicious user could simply save your input page locally, remove or replace your "validation" code, and send something unexpected to your server through their newly-editted page.

            For a first-line of defense, a JS form validator isn't bad - and it is a relatively quick way to tell someone "Hey, you forgot to enter your password"...but you still need to make the same checks server-side in case someone decides to "go around" your JS validator.
          • Re:Easier Fix.... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Frater 219 ( 1455 ) on Saturday December 21, 2002 @09:40AM (#4935799) Journal
            How about a login/password box (and NOT using the antiquated HTTP method of authenication - for one, it has no way to "logout" a user).

            Funny you should mention it. I installed Zope [] recently on one of my Debian boxen. I noticed it uses HTTP Basic Authentication, the "antiquated" (read: standard, universal) mechanism to which you refer. It also has a "Logout" button that works -- if you select "Logout", it returns a page with an authentication failure code, which a browser interprets as meaning that the (username, password) pair it is caching is invalid.

            The fact that you, or your Web application developer, did not think of that indicates that the Zope people know HTTP better than you or s/he. It certainly doesn't indicate anything the matter with HTTP Basic Authentication. And there's a lot right with using the protocol's built-in authentication mechanism rather than writing your own: it is easier; it requires less code; it is standard and works everywhere, unlike JavaScript; and it is better tested than any new mechanism you invent, meaning that it is less likely to fail badly and let people crack your application.

    • Re:Easy Fix.... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by arvindn ( 542080 )

      This could get very interesting.

      AOL shipped NS 7.0 without popup blocking because that would hurt advertisers' interests, but reversed their decision because of public outcry.

      MS, of course, isn't bothered just yet. Now if more people start blocking popups with mozilla/netscape, advertisers will start trying more agressive methods, in turn leading more people to switch.

      Could this tussle lead to a spiralling backlash against MSIE?

      • Re:Easy Fix.... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MtViewGuy ( 197597 )
        I wouldn't be surprised that Microsoft is working on Internet Explorer 7.0 right now, which will probably be part of the next version of Windows (Windows Longhorn).

        I wouldn't be surprised that IE 7.0 will include controls to tightly control pop-over/pop-under ads, given that these ads do tend to hog system resources and slow the WWW surfing experience.
        • Doubtful (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Deathlizard ( 115856 ) on Saturday December 21, 2002 @01:30PM (#4936539) Homepage Journal
          Although Microsoft has most likely done reasearch on pop up ad's and are aware of their customers wanting such a feature, Especially when MSN competitors are touting Pop Up Blockers as a feature of their service, not to mention the deceptive nature of popups these days, Microsoft Will not do it.

          Why you Ask? Because They will get Sued for Being a Monopoly or Stifiling Competition, and Lose.

          Dont Believe Me? When Outlook Express 4 was in it's beta stages, It had a spam filter similar to the one that Hotmail and Outlook currently have. You dont see it in Outlook Express because a company that was sending newsletters sued them for being a Monopoly because the Spam filter would fiter the companies Legitmate E-mail. Even though Microsoft explained that it was the way they were sending the mail and there was an easy fix to it, they didn't budge, They won the case, and Spam continues to flow to inboxes.
  • edit your hosts.... (Score:4, Informative)

    by dfenstrate ( 202098 ) <> on Saturday December 21, 2002 @06:20AM (#4935361)
    my hosts file is already several KB long. Another entry is added everytime an advertiser annoys me. Like Robofind. Soon to be Orbitz, I'm sure.

    Yes, I use mozilla a lot, but I still need IE for some sites.
    • use a quality browser : konqueror, mozilla, opera, phoenix block popups. The three latter are available on nearly any OS
    • surf to quality websites only : google, nerd sites, tgp galeries, nearly any type of website has a version that respects the customers.
    Problem solved
    • Re:Solutions (Score:2, Informative)

      by wscott ( 20864 )
      I recently installed adzapper [] on a squid [] proxy and it reduces way more ads than I was able to get with Mozilla alone.

      All the annoying flash and shockwave ads are gone as well. Bliss!

      apt-get install adzapper
      And then set your proxy. TaDa!

  • types of Ads and know the server they are originating from? Just curious would like to see one. I'm guessing it uses either javascript or flash?

  • by dWhisper ( 318846 ) on Saturday December 21, 2002 @06:24AM (#4935374) Homepage Journal
    Pop-ups are by far the single most annoying thing on the web. I'd say that by this trend, we're only a step away from the pop-up ad that automatically installs GATOR and whatnot just by sitting at a keyboard.

    What is disconcerning about these ads that it's the same thing as if you were watching TV, and there was a product on the screen. By glancing at the product, your channel is changed to an Infomercial about that product. If it's anything like other ads, changing back to your channel will give you 4 PIP windows that support that product and other products by that company.

    I thought it was bad enough when I saw the anti-pop scripting that existed on a site I went to. I still use my trusty Pop-UP Killer (may it rest in peace), and was rather annoyed to be denied access to a site based on my software choice.

    I am seriously starting to wonder about the legality of pop-up ads and internet spyware. I don't have a problem with things that function like a TV commericial (banner ads, or Advertisement and Click-to-continue at Gamespy), but I despise it when someone else tries to determine what I should look at, and hate it even more when someone decides to put something I didn't authorize on my system.

    I say we gather up all these pop-up authors in room. Tie them all together, and make them run Windows Me on 386s. After that, we'll just send them to Equitorial Guinea to be humanitarian workers.

    • Doesn't some do that already? I recall hosted sites doing this. Not because the hosted sites are evil of course, but because adds some code to all of them.

      In IE, you're asked if you wish to install a spyware (through a rather cryptic IE dialog about certificates for novice users) and then given the options OK and Cancel. I wonder how many "amateur surfers" click OK there. :-P
  • I tried the popup in question on and mouseovering took me nowhere...

    Anyone with more success?
  • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Saturday December 21, 2002 @06:29AM (#4935385) Journal
    Go to espn [] to see this thing in action. I don't think this form of advertising is much worse than regular pop-ups, just slightly more annoying. I do wonder how advertising agencies will distinguish between eyeballs and click-throughs... since many people will click-through accidently on these things.

    A favorite quote from the article: "There's an enormous segment of the population that are appreciating these ads". Eh, name one!
    • Advertising agencies, media houses - anyone who profits as a go between the sites and advertisers.
    • The whole point of advertising is eyeballs, not clickthroughs. Advertising creates brand awareness. If people actually click on the ad, that's a plus, but just having been viewed is often good enough. And that's why pop-ups/unders are so effective for many companies.

    • You typed:"Go to espn [] to see this thing in action."
      I went to - another "search engine" owned by domain squatters. They call themselves "megago" this time.
      However, it dropped down a Mozilla warning field!! Your only options are "Cancel" or "OK." Obviously, "OK" is the default, so if you hit return, off you go to some other website. Now that is a bunch of crap.grr..

      Screenshot here []

  • by Bowie J. Poag ( 16898 ) on Saturday December 21, 2002 @06:30AM (#4935388) Homepage

    It could be worse... They could make it so that your browser crashed whenever you went to certain webpa...

    Oh wait. They already do that.

    Nevermind. ;)

  • Hrmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by acehole ( 174372 ) on Saturday December 21, 2002 @06:30AM (#4935390) Homepage
    Perhaps I'm not the only one that is thinking that they should have put a couple of restrictions when they introduced commercialism on the internet.

    And I swear I'll break the fingers of anyone who makes that 'In soviet Russia....' joke.

    • Perhaps I'm not the only one that is thinking that they should have put a couple of restrictions when they introduced commercialism on the internet.

      Why? All that the site is doing is sending an instruction to your computer, telling it to open a window/site/image etc. Instruct your computer to ignore this. You can place whatever restrictions you like on your computer!

    • But... in soviet Russia the fingers break you... Wise ass. ; )
      • Ah, how I love the comedians who reply with the exact joke they were told not to reply with.

    • In Fundamentalist Iran, Internet is Great Satan!
  • One more reason (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 90XDoubleSide ( 522791 ) <> on Saturday December 21, 2002 @06:30AM (#4935391)
    ...that browser makers need to shift more and more from blindly displaying and executing whatever code comes with a web page, to screening that content to provide the best experience for the user.

    This has started with things like disabling the blink tag and having pop-up blockers, and now we see that browsers should not allow certain actions to be triggered simply by a mouseover, and so on. Remember things like this the next time you see someone on bugzilla commenting about how the browser has to respect command X because it's in the standard!

  • Ok, I see alot of "oh just use Mozilla or Opera or Pheonix". Well, what do you suggest I do when I want to access my bank account ( and cannot because they have problems with Mozilla not always working right so just decided to disable it entirely? What about the flash-enabled pages I want to visit that, in IE work fine, but in Mozilla hang with a persistent "Loading...." screen? Or the plethora of other sites that don't work right?

    Now I am not saying it's Mozillas fault, I'm sure alot of the offbeat layout problems are actually the designers screw up, but that doesn't change the fact that I cannot view the site. If adhering solidly to standardsmeans you cannot view more than just a few websites, then I guess I will have to use that "crappy" IE6. Another thing, I don't appreciate a piece of software that, after taking as long as it did to be released, makes my PC respond like a PII 400Mhz with PC66 RAM. God help you if you minimize Moz for awhile and do other things, you'd think it died when you restored the window! No other browser acts like that.

    My point is, lets come up with solutions to this problem that are a bit more practical than "only use these browsers to view only these sites". Because that is NO solution.
    • The only solution can be by legislation. I don't know about the USA, but Germany, for example, has some rather strict rules concerning TV ads, limiting their length, their percentage in programming time, defining that they shall be strictly separated from the stations' own programming, and more.

      Web ads, as they can be even more annoying, need similar rulings. Ads like these should be defined as harassment, and you should be able to file an information about that. The size, amount of scripting designed to circumvent (hey... where did I hear that phrase last?) user input or to annoy the user etc. should be strictly limited. It's very important that the USA receive such legislation because most commercial web sites with such extremely penetrant ads are US based.
    • Frankly, get another bank: it's their job to cater to your requirements. That's why you allow them to keep your money for you! There is a list floating around somewhere of which banking systems work with which browsers.

      Mozilla performing poorly on your system is a different matter. Have you tried Opera? The only reason I use Mozilla (well, Phoenix) today is because Opera 6 couldn't do the flashy DHTML stuff that some sites needed, and I *do* miss Opera's speed--however Opera 7 has just come out with vastly improved DHTML support... and a mode that makes any page look like it was rendered on a C64!! :)
    • If you have a problem with popup ads at your bank's site, pull your money out.
  • by bm_luethke ( 253362 ) <luethkeb@SLACKWA ... net minus distro> on Saturday December 21, 2002 @06:34AM (#4935400)
    Maybe amazon should try and patent this type of thing, popup a window, when you mouse over it automatically purchase the book! Imagine the convenience, you no longer will have to even use the energy required to punch a single button, everything is taken care for you. And the best part is you don't even have to think about the purchase, the've already done it for you! Imagine getting the hottest book sells in the coutry delivered right to your door!
  • How apt (Score:3, Funny)

    by arvindn ( 542080 ) on Saturday December 21, 2002 @06:41AM (#4935414) Homepage Journal

    The Orbitz ads feature interactive games with snowballs, reindeer and snowflakes that ask people to join in a snowball fight, for example.

    How apt. Getting hit by all those popups can be very much like getting caught in a snowball fight.

  • Sure it's quite a harsh move (can we call it a "feature" ??), but I don't think it really matters. Just use a filtering proxy like Privoxy or Junkbuster and regexp out the involved events :)

    In addition, there's a good chance that this will piss off even Joe L. User sooner or later...

  • The heck with ignoring them! Most companies pay to advertise and that payment is oft-times based on CLICK-THRU!! They put on the blindfold and walked right up to the wall, i say we PULL THE TRIGGER! Everytime you find one of the mouse-pop URL, give it to all your friends and spend a couple of minutes just reloading and mousing over and closing after 30 seconds. O*bitz and anyone else foolish enough to do this will soon be BANKRUPT! BWAHAHAHAHA!!!
    • How about you setup a seperate computer that automatically browses to any URL that is displayed in an ad? I'm sure that you could configure Squid with some ad-blocking software, and just modify it so that it uses lynk to open the ad and output the data to /dev/nul or something. That way, every time you visit a page with an ad, the ad gets clicked. If enough people did this (or imagine a beow... n/m), you could really screw advertisers over.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 21, 2002 @06:43AM (#4935429)
    Give this one a try. []

    simple javascript, surprised no one has thought of this before.
  • by MonTemplar ( 174120 ) <> on Saturday December 21, 2002 @06:47AM (#4935442) Journal
    If more people contacted the websites that are running the really intrusive adverts, telling them why the ads are so annoying, and asking them to reconsider, then we'd stand a better chance of seeing the back of them.

    As it is, we seem to be locked into an Arms Race of sorts - ad companies devise new ad format, ad blockers move to block them, repeat ad nauseum... Just blocking the ads will only attract the attention of the ad company, not the owner of the site displaying the ads.
  • by Vaughn Anderson ( 581869 ) on Saturday December 21, 2002 @06:49AM (#4935447)
    I found my cable modem has this long black thing plugged into it, and if I pull it out it completely and utterly cuts off all internet advertising... it's quite amazing.
  • by Vegard ( 11855 ) on Saturday December 21, 2002 @06:49AM (#4935448)
    Internet is a wonderful media, used right. It *could* also be a wonderful media for the advertising business.

    The reason the ads get larger and more annoying, is that noone clicks on them - because no one WANTS those ads. This is *not* going to change by making them more annoying, only the oppsosite.

    No, the advertising business does *not* understand Internet. Had they done that, they would have done a lot more targeted advertising, to people who WANTED it, and perhaps even used some effort to build up interesting web-sites related to the field they operated in.

    Take, for example, a sports chain. Would it be as annoying if a sports chain co-financed a sports news site, or an outdoor activities site? There could be a prominent, non-intrusive link on the front page, pointing to "shop". This is only one example of things that would be less intrusive but perhaps more effective.

    Instead of buying ads, buy a part of a well-used website, make the commercial section well accessible from the front page, but non-intrusive unless you REALLY want to see it.

    Another thing they could do, once having bought access to an internet site, is participate in talkback fora. Teach a person that task, and make him inform about general topics AND advice about products. What makes me like and want to buy from a shop, is *service*, *well-informed personell* and willingness to help.

    In other words - contribute to the community, make your name known through *that*, and I think one would benefit in the long run.

    There might be better ways than my examples, they're just examples of ways *I* think are better than push-your-ads-in-the-face-of-too-many-people-strat egies.

    But no, the advertising business hasn't understood the media at all. It's all about pushing annoying ads in the face of unwilling customers, in the hope of catching *one* willing customer more.
    • by kcbrown ( 7426 ) <> on Saturday December 21, 2002 @07:51AM (#4935559)
      Whatever happened to smart advertising? It doesn't seem to exist. Perhaps it existed at one time, but I don't think it exists anymore. The reason it doesn't exist anymore is because advertisers are morons. The advertising companies are run by morons. This is obvious because only a moron would believe that the effectiveness of an advertisement is directly proportional to it annoyance factor and little else. Only a moron would believe that the clickthrough rate of an advertisement is the proper way to measure its effectiveness, when the real measure is how many people buy a product from the company as a result of the ad.

      Measuring that is hard, but the advertisers are idiots, so they don't know how to do the hard stuff, don't have the brains to figure it out, and aren't interested in doing the hard stuff in any case.

      I have no respect for the advertising industry at all, if you haven't figured that out by now. :-)

      • Actually, the advertising companies are run by very smart people, who are very good at sucking money out of their customers (the merchants).

        Whether an ad is effective or not is not the advertising company's problem -- so long as the customer THINKS it is, and keeps renewing their ad contract.

        It follows that the morons are the people *buying* these advertising contracts.

    • ...No, the advertising business does *not* understand Internet. Had they done that, they would have done a lot more targeted advertising, to people who WANTED it, and perhaps even used some effort to build up interesting web-sites related to the field they operated in....

      Wasn't there recently (as in some months ago) a story about advertisers and stores getting together to create a humongous database that would tie together stuff like your IP address, the web pages you visit, stuff you buy online, etc?? As I recall, there was a rather vocal reaction to that...

      If such a thing happened, it would be able to target any given PC with specific ads. The problem then is that those of us with multiple PCs behind NAT-enabled routers would almost certainly start getting ads aimed at other users in the house, probably with unwanted results... Imagine your wife being presented with that organ-enlargement ad you checked out last week, or guys getting feminine hygiene ads...

      Hmmm, maybe there's a lawsuit lurking in there...

  • Ask not how they can worsen our web-surfing, but how we can fight them back! They are stamping over our right to the "pursuit of happiness", not to mention privacy issues. Last I checked, newspapers don't contain popup ads (popup books are just scary!)... There must be something we can do. Hire a good cyberlawyer. :-)
  • Blocked! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 00Monkey ( 264977 )
    The more annoying the advertisement, the more people that will try to find a way to block it. I'm sure with a little programming, it won't be a problem to do so...and it may not even need that.

    I sit here and look at the ads on Slashdot while I'm typing away...I don't look for long and I'm not interested in what I've seen so far but the key part is that I am looking at them. If the ad popped up in my face or made me click links, etc I would immediately find a way to stop it and ignore whatever it says because I'm too irritated to care.
  • by Kasmiur ( 464127 ) on Saturday December 21, 2002 @06:56AM (#4935460)
    Bandwidth is expensive. If we were to take 20K slashdot users and have them try and go through the website as much as possible we could eat up thier bandwidth. Thereforth costing them more money without actually buying anything.

    I personally have been boycotting any company that uses a popup ad that I have run across. It doesnt appear to be doing much. But a boycott is something I can do forever while trying to get others to do the same.

    though using up thier bandwidth sounds nice. theres gotta be a way to call for the download of a single .jpg x1000 without it actually caching on my machine. though a jpg would only be 50K I am looking at it along the lines 50Megs but if I get some program that could do that on 10 machines at work have them eat up 500megs of bandwidth a hour would equal what 12gigs a day. 360gigs a month. If I can get them to download a larger gif perhaps I could reach 500gigs a month. Thats gotta cost them some money. Perhaps make them go out of business so thier add wont popup anymore.

    But that would be wrong too.

    so boycotting it will have to be.
    Ignore what I just wrote. And do not use it for evil purposes.
    • Plus you would be using a similiar amount of bandwidth at work. But a community like this could eat up their bandwidth just by slashdot agreeing to do the ads and everyone whom disagrees with the ads ignore them or even worse click on them so the advertiser pays slashdot they get tons of click stats but no sales of products. And it is not evil it is consumer choice using the market system to express the irrelevance of some market techniques.

      Who needs spelling and punctuation?

      Well I do.

    • for (i=0, i null

      or something like that.
    • Not only would the repeated downloading eat up your own bandwidth too, but it would congest the network for others around the world. A better system would be to have your client download the ad reeeeeeaaaaaalllllyyy sssssssssllllllllloooooooowwwwwwwlllllyyyy. That way, you tie up the server for a minute say, for each connection request. This is bandwidth friendly and blocks only the advertized server from servicing other customers in the time you download.
    • How many tens of thousands of users are now idle since they finally cracked the RC5 challenge? Maybe this would be a good project for them... I think it would certainly be more worthwhile than brute-force cracking encryption.

      As someone else suggested, throttle down the connection to a few bytes a second to maximize the hit on the server. I can think of at least one tool that work out-of-the-box, and it would be fairly trivial to write something to connect to a port and read bytes slowly...

      Oh, sorry, did I say that out loud? Wups... :)

    • by alfaiomega ( 585948 ) <> on Saturday December 21, 2002 @11:31AM (#4936120) Homepage

      theres gotta be a way to call for the download of a single .jpg x1000 without it actually caching on my machine. though a jpg would only be 50K I am looking at it along the lines 50Megs but if I get some program that could do that on 10 machines at work have them eat up 500megs of bandwidth a hour would equal what 12gigs a day.

      You need two programs to do that, bash [] and wget []. You can write one (long) line to do just that:

      shell$ for i in `seq 1 1000`; do wget --user-agent='Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.5; Windows NT 5.0)' --cache=off --referer=; rm -v abkc_sidecam.jpg; done [enter]

      or you could even run something million times more effective, like this:

      shell$ for i in `seq 1 1000`; do wget --user-agent='Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.5; Windows NT 5.0)' --cache=off --mirror -e robots=off; rm -rfv *; done [enter]

      Technically it's trivial, you can use Bash/wget, you can use Perl/LWP, etc. But the question is: wouldn't it be more evil than the popups themselves?

  • by TheWanderingHermit ( 513872 ) on Saturday December 21, 2002 @07:07AM (#4935484)
    Why don't we use the power of Slashdot? Suppose all of us made a perfectly legit phone call to 888-656-4546, the contact number on the Orbitz site, and told them, "I just want to let your company know as long as you use pop-up ads, especially with kick-through, I will go to your competitor's site instead."

    It's kind of like "Alice's Restaurant." If one of us does it, they'll think s/he's nuts and ignore them. If two of us do it....and so on. If several thousand people called them and voiced perfectly legit complaints about their method of advertising, and this went on to the tune of several thousand calls a day for a week or more, the costs would ad up and they just might feel they need to change their ways. It's a variation on some of the passive resistance tactics used in the South in the Civil Rights Movement.

    Another possibility -- and IANAL, but I might be checking with a friend who is, would be to see if you can legitimately "sell" space and use of your computer. Specify that any banner ads are acceptable, but you are charging a company a fee of $100 per ad for each window that they open up on your computer without your requesting that window. Say you don't want their product, but you are offering them the chance to test their software and you will report all successful events to them when you bill them.

    This is similar to the tactic a private citizen's group (I think they're called Private Citizen) has used to get many of their members off telemarking lists. They tell the marketers they may not call their list of numbers because their members don't want to buy their product. Then they make an offer for the company to test their telemarking system by calling their members, and the rate per test is $100 or more per instance. They also specify all a company has to do to accept this offer is to call their members. This has stood up in court!

    Anyway, there's two suggestions. I think the first, if organized, like what people are doing to Ralsky for his spam, would have SOME kind of effect on Orbitz. I don't even know if the second one can be done legally.
  • What's the point? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by g4dget ( 579145 ) on Saturday December 21, 2002 @07:35AM (#4935542)
    Click-through indicates interest on the part of the user. It lets advertisers engage with people who are interested while avoiding annoying potential future customers. Mouse-over does not indicate interest, so it's no better than simply popping up windows randomly, and advertisers can do that already.
  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Saturday December 21, 2002 @07:36AM (#4935543) Homepage

    I develop apps for handheld devices (PDA's and phones), and this stuff is anathema to us. There isn't the screen real estate to show these fancy new fangled "windows", so everything appears in the foreground. Consequently, our browser pathologically blocks anything that might interrupt the user.

    As handhelds become more popular for browsing (and it is doable even on teeny screens with the right display paradigms) this is going to become a bigger issue. If you think popups are bad on your 1600x1200 monitor, try dealing with them on a sub 320x240 screen. Yuk.

  • Intrusive ads... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by joto ( 134244 ) on Saturday December 21, 2002 @07:51AM (#4935561)
    There is something fundamentally wrong with how even legitimate advertizing works on the Internet. I'm not talking about spam. I'm not talking about porn-sites. I'm talking about the everyday normal practice of pop-ups like msn, geocities or a number of others pop up.

    One would figure that most of these big-time players (who can afford to do something different than the small porn-sites popping up every day) would do it, if they want to keep the surfers there. Yet most of the time, the same annoying pop-up comes up each time I click on a link (e.g. next page).

    One should think that these people would be smart enough to understand that after having seen the same lotto ad 5 times in a minute, and not even once clicked on it, that I don't care much for lotto. But no! The website in question will continually annoy me with the same intrusive add, time after time, with the only reasonable conclusion that I will leave the site, and surf somewhere else. Thus the company looses one potential web-surfer and ad-revenue income.

    Damn it! Why are they so stupid? This is what cookies are for! They should track my browsing behaviour, find out what I'm interested in, and serve me those kinds of ads. At the very least, they should rotate the ads. And once they have my cookie, they should limit the number of times they will show me the same ad in a given period.

    There is a reason that web-advertisements are not effective! Even when they have all the tools they need to track my browsing behaviour, profile my browsing habits, check which ads I click on, etc, they still keep pestering me with the same ad for the same product ten times in a minute! Even when they know the only outcome of this is that they loose the opportunity to sell me other stuff!

    Obviously, I can take some steps myself for myself to get rid of the annoyance, such as pop-up blockers and so on. But that is not my point. What I do not understand is why even the big guys (content-providers) insist on giving the cheesiest advertisers the opportunity to drive customers away from their site. One should think that they would be smarter, but obviously they are not!

  • 'Net marketers truly operate with a crazy paradigm. Why is it they think that by annoying people as much as possible, they get more customers?

  • by Mahtar ( 324436 ) <> on Saturday December 21, 2002 @08:24AM (#4935619), can they make our web surfing experience any worse?

    Three words:

    CowboyNeal bestiality ads.

    I'm going to go scrub my brain with brillo now.
  • LOL (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Boss, Pointy Haired ( 537010 ) on Saturday December 21, 2002 @08:44AM (#4935682)
    The funny thing is, that companies that advertise like that then go on to claim that the hit count received by their website represents genuine interested visitors.

    This of course is BS, but the sadly uneducated tech. media of today write an article about.

    X10 did this, I got sick of reading in Computer Weekly etc. how X10 became one of the most visited sites on the Internet.

    Visted???? Visited my pointed haired a***.
  • Proxomitron (Score:4, Informative)

    by Staros ( 635882 ) on Saturday December 21, 2002 @09:22AM (#4935770) Homepage
    Probably a good time to remind all the people forced to use Windows here of this little brilliant utility [], which functions as a local proxy server and thus works with any browser, and can filter popups, the kind of mouseover events mentioned in this article, sounds, ads, everything. A must-have for Win32 people, in my opinion.
  • Hmmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kien ( 571074 ) <> on Saturday December 21, 2002 @10:14AM (#4935874) Journal
    "Otherwise serves "millions of impressions a day," but to keep from oversaturating Web surfers, the company works with publishers to put a frequency cap on the number of ads someone will see in a 24-hour period, Rattin added. 'We try and minimize the annoyance for people.'"

    Is it just me or could that last sentence be restated as: "We want to annoy you...but only a little bit."

    God save us from clever programmers and clueless marketers. :)

  • by Mirkon ( 618432 ) <mirkon AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday December 21, 2002 @10:15AM (#4935877) Homepage
    <a href=# onMouseOver=";"><img src="yourcomputeristooslow.gif"></a>

    User: "What's this? My computer is too sl- AAAAAGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!" server: "Muhuhahaha..."

  • by boatboy ( 549643 ) on Saturday December 21, 2002 @10:23AM (#4935900) Homepage
    Anybody who's done much Javascript can come up with plenty more annoying tricks, like hiding the close buttons, popping up a fake window, etc. Yahoo sortof does some of these with the DHTML ads. I guess the content providers wouldn't like it, but there's alot more annoying things that could be done. That being said, this is plenty annoying for me.
  • by weave ( 48069 ) on Saturday December 21, 2002 @10:29AM (#4935916) Journal
    The most effective ads I've seen are the ones on Kuro5hin [] and -- cough -- mbe fark [] (although I'm not usually in the market for porn, a.b. groups satisfy me just fine. ;).

    A small text-only non-obtrusive add that -- most importantly -- links to a comment section where potential clients can comment on the advertiser and, glory be, some rep from that company is there to answer questions and address criticisms.

    For example, this ad and comment page for Johncompanies [] helped convince me to get a virtual dedicated host with them.

    It also has the added benefit that the advertiser gets a real-life feel for how effective the ad is, and doesn't have to rely on some easily falsifiable clickthrough or impression report from the advertising company.

    Now, if you're peddling shit, I'm sure this kind of instant-feedback type ad is not going to be your cup-of-tea. Another reason why I like these ads.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday December 21, 2002 @12:25PM (#4936292) Homepage
    This might be a case of "exceeds authorized access" under Federal computer crime laws. Somebody with clout needs to push that issue with an interested prosecutor.

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