Web Savvy: Yet Another Word From Our Sponsor
You don't need a talking head like me to tell you the Web is rife with advertising. And those pesky online marketers are only getting started. Ads keep growing more intrusive--from pop-unders to videos that take over your browser.
Here's my take on Web ads: I'm happy to be bombarded with digital commercials if they keep my favorite free services--like EFax, the New York Times's Web site, and Yahoo Finance--in business. (In fact, PCWorld.com uses a number of advertising techniques, some fairly annoying, to pay the bills.) And some of the new in-your-face ads don't faze me. For instance, sites like Salon.com have tried forcing people to view oversize ads before they can see content. As long as you agree to accept those sites' cookies, you should see the ads only once a day.
But I have a big problem with online companies that use technology to manipulate or annoy me more than offline advertisers already do. Case in point: A site I frequent ran ads recently for a truck company. The silhouette of a monster stomped across the screen, obscuring most of the Web page. Then a truck fell from the sky, spewed some slogan, and disappeared. After this interlude, I could proceed. It was as if Britney Spears had sauntered across the TV screen during
Pop-under ads are another annoyance. They differ from pop-ups--and elude some anti-pop-up utilities--because they open in a window behind your main browser window. Then they sit on your desktop until you notice them. Advertisers are also dabbling in video ads taken straight from TV. Recently my Net connection had to swallow a Coke ad that bogged down one of my favorite sports sites.
Unfortunately, there's not much that a Web surfer can do about online advertising. One way you can respond: Avoid Web sites that serve up obnoxious advertisements. And stay away from utilities like Gator (discussed in this month's
Another option is to
If you want to stomp as many ads as possible, you can
The bottom line is, you can't avoid online ads entirely. And that's okay. We all know Web sites need advertising to survive. But if a site can't stay afloat via ads that don't drive its customers crazy--or via subscription fees, e-commerce, or some other means of revenue--it probably wasn't useful in the first place.