taking the passive out of passive-aggressive

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

It's a cliche to say that popup ads are annoying, but as someone in the advertising biz, I loathe them especially. These popup cretins are taking up my targets' brain space! Here I am, trying to communicate legitimate messages (ok, sales messages, but legitimate nonetheless) and they're out there cheating, making all advertising look bad. Like a pyramid scheme, they'll eventually undermine all internet advertising.

First of all, despite my intense cynicism, I utterly and completely believe in the internet. I'm the idiot who clicks on banner ads just to get their clickthrough rates up, so the site content will remain free. (I'm not, however, the kind of person who clicks on ads hoping they're on a PPC model, laughing maniacally and saying "Ha! Forty bucks to you, my friend!" Yes, I've heard of that, though I'll never say where.) Anyway, we all agree to look at ads in exchange for content--TV is a good example--so it should work for the net too.

But the contract is different on the net. The users are reading, not watching passively, so they need more uninterrupted quiet time; and the load times are still terribly slow. So advertisers have to be careful how they treat the audience--large-loading ads and sneaky popups on continuous connections are at best distracting and at worst, rage-inducing. I myself went into an apopleptic fit this morning when, leaving my machine unattended at work over the Snowstorm Weekend, returned to find my machine crashed by three thousand popups. Isn't this why I gave up Internet porn? But all I'd been doing from work was innocently surfing weather.com. Turns out those sneaky advertising bastards have figured out a way to get into my machine through a security hole in Windows 2000. Save now! Orbitz.com!

Again, I don't have some big crusade against advertising--obviously. I try to make really good, interesting ads and websites. And when I can't, or don't--because believe me, I've come up with some big old losers in my time--I try at least not to invade on people's space with my crappy-ass marketing. Isn't it only fair to demand that we consumers are given good ads, at appropriate times? For god's sake, if you're gonna give me a popup, at least offer me 50% off of something. Anything!

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