January 22, 2009

Internet ads are annoying

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at January 22, 2009 10:21 PM

Internet ads are always annoying, of course, but some ads are more annoying than others. I hardly notice the Google text ads to the right of my e-mail, but I've had to restrain myself from putting a fist through the monitor when those Circuit City flash ads spawn directly on top of the page I'm trying to read. Happily, they went bankrupt, and it serves them right.

One of the webcomics I read had an ad running for a while (for another webcomic) that was so visually irritating that I seriously considered buying up the ad space to displace it. Since the space in question was managed by the Project Wonderful service, the cost of doing this was displayed right below the ad, and seemed like a completely reasonable amount to pay to clean up the page.

This strategy would require rather more funding to take on the current plague of the Internet: the ads for the "one rule to a flat stomach" diet. While these started out as innocuous Google text ads themselves, remarkable only for their questionable grammatical choices, the initial campaign must have been successful: I think sometime last week they succeeded in buying up every ad space on the Internet. (Since then they've scaled back to only about half of all the ads I see.) Too bad they didn't use some of their advertising money to hire an actual marketing firm; instead the ads remain amateurish and off-putting, mostly consisting of shoving large, grainy pictures of exposed stomachs into our faces.

The usual impact of these ads is for me to navigate away from the page as fast as possible. But a better strategy might be to actually click on the ad. After all, charging for click-throughs is a pretty common pricing scheme in internet advertising, and since I'm not actually going to buy whatever snake oil these people are selling, every click from me is a small loss for them. It's even tempting to write a script to repeatedly hit their ads, but it seems like this could get me in trouble. My best hope is that nobody buys their product in the middle of a recession, and their advertising binge sends them the way of Circuit City, but unfortunately I suspect the insatiable demand for miracle diets will keep them in business for a while.

So I guess I have no choice but to endure it, and spend my time contemplating which of their ads is the most appalling. Is it the one with the badly-animated jiggling flab? Or the one which shows a normal, healthy woman in the "before" picture who then looks like a famine victim in the "after"? It's a tough choice.

Tags: Internet

Speaking of advertising, in all media- We have just been witness to the greatest advertising coup of all time, and it didn't cost the product manufacturer a dime. And that would be the protracted and riveting saga of will he, or won't he, get to keep and use his BlackBerry. The free buzz that has generated is the real reason Steve Jobs has taken a medical leave of absence.

Posted by: JSpur | January 22, 2009 11:12 PM

I actually haven't seen the ad you're talking about. Maybe I'm getting better at filtering things than before? (Or maybe it's just that ESPN and mathematics websites don't produce enough of a target audience...)

Posted by: Mason Porter | January 23, 2009 8:31 AM

The internet has ads?

I've rarely seen an ad on the internet for years; I find them intensely annoying, so I've been using ad-blocking software ever since discovering that such software exists. If you're using FireFox, I recommend Adblock Plus as it will auto-update for you. If you're using Safari PithHelmet is pretty good, too. For any arbitrary browser, Privoxy will do in a pinch; it lacks a GUI and browser integration, but it's better than nothing.

If you're using FireFox, I also recommend a combination of Platypus and Greasemonkey to fix annoying web design for sites taht you commonly visit. Most of the comics that I view have been parred down to just the comic and the forward/back links; I really don't want to scroll to see the main content of a page.

The internet is full of annoyances, but most annoyances on the web have work-arounds.

Posted by: Nick | January 23, 2009 6:23 PM
Post a comment