ComputerWorld listed ad blocking extensions to Firefox in page two of its article “Top 10 Firefox extensions to avoid” specifically because ComputerWorld is an ad-supported publication. The author even goes so far as to say as much in the article. Call me an anti-capitalist, but I am bombarded with enough advertisements when I open a newspaper, magazine or even the refrigerator. I long for those halcyon days of yore when the Internet was a place to get information without being bombarded by pop-ups and banner ads.
And the situation has not gotten any better over time. As web technology advances, so do the ways in which advertisers try to grab our attention. ComputerWorld specifically uses one sort of ad that I find most annoying. When you move your mouse over the ad to get to a link in the article, the banner ad increases to four times its original size blocking the article that you are reading. You then have to click on the close link embedded in the ad (therefore tracking your interaction with it) in order to get back to the article. But be careful! If you accidentally touch the ad again with your mouse, it pops right back up.
Most recently, the media has picked up on the story of advertisers marketing to children over the internet. [see here] I find it ironic that the largest advertising medium is complaining about advertisements directed at children. Have you watched Saturday morning programming lately? Perhaps the complaint is that it is cutting into their market share.
I am convinced that I am not alone in my ire toward mass advertisement. The number of commercial software products out there to stop pop-ups, pop-unders and banner ads is continually increasing. Most of them advertise in much the same way as the ads they claim to prevent.
Current browser technologies even come with their own pop-up blocker settings, although Microsoft specifically requires the feature to be turned off to access many of the features of their sites and products. Why? One possibility is that Microsoft has extended its portfolio by buying two large internet advertising firms including its largest acquisition to date – aQuantive. This is the second major advertising purchase made by Microsoft in a month, the first being ScreenTonic. The CEO of Microsoft makes their love for internet advertising clear. “Really understanding the power of advertising as an Internet business model we came to later than I wish we had. That's the No. 1 thing I regret.” [see here]
So, what can be done to limit the number of advertisements that internet users are subjected to? What is the most cost effective way of shielding our children and ourselves from the constant barrage of adware, spyware and trojans?