Pop-up ads: America's least wanted

Dec. 10, 2002, midnight | By KC Costanzo | 21 years, 6 months ago

(Part two of two)

This is part two of a two-part series. Part one can be read here: The annoying net fad: the pop-up ad

In my last article I complained about something or other. The reason I can't remember exactly what it was I complained about is because every week I complain about something or other. I promise you next week I'll tell you about something everyone should like but today we're sticking with the complaint theme. That's right, it's time to discus pop-up ads, the supreme evil of the world. Today I'll share with you the worst offenders known to man.

3. Bonzi Software: These ads feature a purple ape who prances around the window asking for users to download him. What could possibly posses a company to use a Barney-the-dinosaur colored primate as a spokesperson? Personally, I feel no deep connection with the "Bonzi Buddy." Bonzi Software could improve the campaign by turning it into a weekly soap opera that Internet users could sympathize with. Each week, browsers could navigate to their favorite pop-up riddled website to find out the latest on Bonzi and his love life. For instance, there could be an episode where Bonzi finds out his fiancé, an ape colored with a more traditionally female color, such as purple, is cheating on him with King Kong. Not only would this liven up one of the worst advertisements on the web, it would also tick off Jerry Falwell and his cronies, which is always good.

Bonzi Software also uses the "looks-vaguely-like-a-Windows'-error-message-but-clearly-isn't" method of advertising. This is a particularly slick technique. A window appears on the monitor and says, "Your Current Connection May Be Capable of Faster Speeds. Download Internet Boost Now." I don't know about you, but when I see something like this, I feel compelled to comply because who knows the consequences of ignoring such a request? And besides, since the only option you are presented with is "OK," clearly I have no choice. Well, of course you could click one of the little X's in the right-hand corner, but how do you know which one to press? I mean there are two of them and as a member of the general public, a group advertisers generally consider to have a collective IQ of 2, I'm am unable to determine which button will close the window. Clearly these salespeople are too clever for us.

2. Orbitz: Orbitz is a travel agency with a website "designed with the traveler in mind." One of the main problems with the Orbitz ad-campaign is that it does not clearly convey this message. No, the Orbitz pop-under ads seem more like they're screaming at you to buy tickets before the neon colors it is so gaudily adorned with explode off the screen and blind everyone within a five-mile radius. The characters and figures in the ads are always blocky and lack texture perhaps to help the viewer to come to the correct conclusion that the message lacks substance or any semblance of reality.

The campaign must work or they wouldn't keep using it right? Not only that, but they must be cheap to make. In fact, anyone can make them. Simply grab a camera and find any five-year-old girl who has just gotten into her mother's makeup drawer. Wait until she has finished applying the eye-shadow to her nose and smeared the lipstick on her chin then snap a picture, slap it on a sheet of paper, come up with a catchy slogan and a product to sell, and VIOLA! You have yourself an Orbitz-style ad. If you don't have access to a five-year-old, just find a picture of Christina Agulera.

1. X10 Wireless Technology: Most Internet users have seen the X10 wireless camera ads though strangely few seem to remember the name of the product. Most people just seem to remember the fact that the ads are all somewhat disturbing. They kind of remind people of the creepy, old man across the street who always seems to be staring up at their sister's bedroom window. Or at least that's what they remind me of. The reason I associate these ads with such a negative image is because they seem to be designed by the very same dirty, old man. X10 bombards desktops across the world with a somewhat bizarre campaign that always features scrolling images of first a house or room and then a scantily clad woman. The message seems to be "Use this camera to make sure your house is protected against break-ins . . . and if you happen to catch a naked woman on tape by accident all the better." Essentially it's a product that cancels itself out: X10 can be used for legal practices or the illegal ones that X10 capitalizes on.

So there you have it: the worst of the bunch all listed here so as to spread awareness of an increasingly problematic situation. I think anyone who reads this article will reach the same conclusion I have: the Internet is run by perverted, neon-purple apes.

EXTRA: Looking to get rid of those pesky X10 ads? Strangely enough, a Google search for X10 turned up a web page posted by the X10 company itself. Apparently the advertisers felt guilty about their barrage of pop-up ads because the page gives Internet users the option to essentially turn the ads off for a full month. They're attempt at public redemption may seem only half-hearted, but hey, it's a step in the right direction, right?

-->Click here to learn more and then block the ads
-->here to block the ads without having to read the information.

Tags: print

KC Costanzo. Keith "KC" Costanzo is one of the brand-spanking-new editors-in-chief of <i>Silver Chips Online</i>. His responsibilities include maintaining the journalistic integrity of the paper and making sure no one spontaneously combusts due to the stress of deadlines. KC enjoys late night frisbee games and long hours … More »

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