The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Yeah, if you spend any amount of time on the Internet, you know what pop-up ads are. And you hate them. (Heck, I guess they're even on TV now--some of those promo graphics that creep onto your television screen during a show owe their existence to the pop-up.)

There are, of course, ways to fight them, if you're adventurous and tech-savvy enough to try out alot of software that may or may not work, and may or may not fuck up your system. Beyond these utilities, some of the major ISPs (notably EarthLink) and even browser producers (Mozilla) are building in safeguards that combat the appearance of these little devils.

The thing is, from what I've seen, it may be darned near impossible to totally eliminate pop-ups. Every add-on program I've seen works, at best, most of the time. The trouble is in distinguishing between a good pop-up--an extra browser window you want to open, or need to open while navigating a particular site--and a bad pop-up--the junk. The nature of these things is such that it's almost impossible for any program to figure this out accurately 100% of the time.

And if this wasn't depressing enough, even more bad news: Pop-up ads have been found to be the most effective means of online advertising. In theory, this means somebody--in fact, a lot of somebodies--is clicking through on these things. Whether or not they're doing it intentionally, or instead getting "gotcha-ed!", is up for debate. All I know is, this particular passage really pisses me off:

"One new type of ad clicks through to the advertiser's site even if Web surfers simply move their mouse over the ad."

I would have to kill the geek who invented this.