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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 Travis Mansbridge ( 830557 ) on Friday August 15, 2014 @08:13AM (#47676595)
    As soon as the tools were added for a web page to open a new web-page, I'm sure pop-ups were "invented" simultaneously across numerous ad agencies.
  • by ConfusedVorlon ( 657247 ) on Friday August 15, 2014 @08:16AM (#47676607) Homepage

    A very expensive patent that was litigated aggressively...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2014 @08:18AM (#47676613)

    [quote] Our intentions were good. [/quote]
    FVO "good" meaning "to make money". Not unsurprising in the Capitalist America, but still a bit too easy.

    Not that I care much, if not him someone else would've thought this one up. Pop-overs, pop-unders, pop-ins, insertions, insertions by your own ISP, unbidden playing of something VERY LOUD, possibly with video attached, what-have-you. There's something about advertising that invariably brings out the most obnoxious in the advertiser. Or even outright evil, like advertising toolbars and other malware.

    It's what commerce does, it what it must do if it's effectively a religion to you.

  • good intentions? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by radja ( 58949 ) on Friday August 15, 2014 @08:23AM (#47676639) Homepage

    the intention was to show advertising to people. Steal their bandwidth and hide real content without getting approval. The intentions of advertising on the web were never good, they were evil. And all that because some companies want to line their pockets.

  • Advertising.... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2014 @08:24AM (#47676643)

    NEVER has good intentions. EVER

    Your apology will never be enough to excuse what you wrought

  • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Friday August 15, 2014 @08:29AM (#47676663)

    Not entirely evil. Thanks to those ad-funded companies like Tripod, many people were able to create websites that could not otherwise have afforded to do so. Web hosting was expensive back in those days, and even now it'll still cost you at least ten quid a month or so, which is a significant amount for some. Even today we continue to reap the benefits of advertising-based businesses for all manner of useful things - even though the ads themselves are so loathed that many users find ways to block them.

  • by Vitriol+Angst ( 458300 ) on Friday August 15, 2014 @08:45AM (#47676719)

    But I have to admit that if my intentions were ever good, I wasn't actually marketing anymore. I'm glad that he's apologetic, but he was in marketing. You don't swing a pitchfork in Hell and pretend you don't work there.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2014 @09:02AM (#47676793)

    Agreed. Advertiser's intentions are never good. Their intention is to manipulate people at a subconscious emotional level in order to get their money. "Good" is when you donate to charity, not when you manipulate people.

  • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Friday August 15, 2014 @09:08AM (#47676819)

    There are no such things as good intentions, at least not for users.

    Marketing is about manipulating and about out-shouting the competition. This is not at all restricted to the internet. The obvious progression on the internet was stationary ads, animated ads, ads that pop up over content, ads that were indistinguishable from content, ads that bypassed adblockers, ads that started playing sound, ads that start playing videos, and now ads that pop up in the middle of videos.

    We saw the same thing with TVs, ads in the ad breaks, louder ads in the ad breaks, longer ad breaks, ads popping up at the bottom of the screen during content, ads featured in content (not all actors like drinking Coke).

    Oh and on billboards which were painted on the side of buildings, then free standing, then free standing with lots of lighting shining on them, and now a back lit video billboard which is blindingly bright at night.

    Sorry buddy but you never had "good intentions".

I owe the public nothing. -- J.P. Morgan