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Advertising The Internet

The Man Responsible For Pop-Up Ads On Building a Better Web 135

An anonymous reader writes Above all, Ethan Zuckerman wants you to know that he is sorry. In the mid-1990s, Zuckerman was working as a designer and programmer for when he wrote the code for the first pop-up ad. He says: "At the end of the day, the business model that got us funded was advertising. The model that got us acquired was analyzing users’ personal homepages so we could better target ads to them. Along the way, we ended up creating one of the most hated tools in the advertiser’s toolkit: the pop-up ad. It was a way to associate an ad with a user’s page without putting it directly on the page, which advertisers worried would imply an association between their brand and the page’s content. Specifically, we came up with it when a major car company freaked out that they’d bought a banner ad on a page that celebrated anal sex. I wrote the code to launch the window and run an ad in it. I’m sorry. Our intentions were good."
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The Man Responsible For Pop-Up Ads On Building a Better Web

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  • by BarbaraHudson (3785311) <(barbarahudsononline) (at) (> on Friday August 15, 2014 @07:20AM (#47676625) Journal
    ... which led to the pop-under, etc. On the bright side, this led to higher adoption rates for browsers that supported ad-blockers, noscript, etc. So if it weren't for this guy, Firefox would probably never have gained the traction it did, and the vast majority of people would be stuck on IE.
  • by bunratty (545641) on Friday August 15, 2014 @07:55AM (#47676769)

    I never thought of that as the reason that Firefox became popular (and why Mozilla was quickly becoming popular before that). Back then, Mozilla's built-in popup blocker blocked nearly all popups. IE didn't have any corresponding feature? That sure would be a compelling reason to switch browsers!

    When I read the article, the thought I had was that I installed AdBlock Plus only to disable the popups that Firefox didn't block with its built-in blocker when popups evolved to get around it. Is there still not an ad blocker that blocks only the most annoying ads such as popups?

Never appeal to a man's "better nature." He may not have one. Invoking his self-interest gives you more leverage. -- Lazarus Long