The annoying net fad: the pop-up ad

Nov. 18, 2002, midnight | By KC Costanzo | 21 years, 7 months ago

(Part one of two)

What happened to the good old days of the Internet when you could go to a website secure in the knowledge that cars wouldn't suddenly careen haphazardly across the screen? What happened to the days when pop-up ads didn't attack your screen? In short, what happened to the days when you could actually see the site you wanted?

Most of us are familiar with Satan's latest invention: the pop-up ad. If you're one of the few people left in the world who hasn't seen a pop-up ad in front of the web page you're visiting, let me fill you in on why these ads are hated by Internet users around the world. Consider the following scenario.

Suppose you sit down in your family room chair and open up a book you've been meaning to read but haven't had the time. You flip to the first page and begin to read the words, "Chapter One." Suddenly a stranger bursts into the room wearing suspenders, a clown nose, and a huge fluorescent smile. Now imagine he's tone-deaf and playing a trumpet connected to an amplifier. Even if you grab the trumpet out of his hands and beat him over the head with it until it breaks in half and his head has a dent in it large enough to drain the Atlantic Ocean into, he won't be deterred. He'd simply pull a bicycle pump out of his back pocket, re-inflate his head, and whip out another trumpet. Take this scene, splash it on a monitor, and wa-lah, you have a pop-up ad.

Though computer users have fought back with new software that closes the pop-ads as they appear on the screen, one victory is hardly enough to win the war when you're faced with marketers bent on destroying the reputations of the very companies they were hired to promote. Advertisers press on.

The newest rage in the world of Internet promotions, is the pop-under ad. Pop-under ads are windows that appear under the site you're visiting instead of on top. Take our trumpeter example except this time imagine that when you pick up the book, he doesn't play a single note. No, instead he holds the trumpet to his mouth, grins, and stares at you while you read. He knows that eventually you'll have to look at him, and when you do, he will unleash a torrent of hideous sounds. Ignoring him doesn't work. He will sit patiently, watching, waiting for that moment of weakness when your curiosity gets the better of you.

How do we wipe out this terrible plague that has beset our cyber playground? How do we stop websites infested with parasitic product placements from attaching themselves to the screens of unsuspecting Internet users? How can we destroy this shadowed enemy once and for all? Simple. Head over to your local advertising agency and complain. Don't forget to take a trumpet.

The first step we, as a nation of united people, need to take to rid the world of this evil is to identify the worst offenders. Shoot me an e-mail at and let me know which pop-ads you think are the most annoying and which sites spam your monitors the most. If you're too lazy to do that, then at least leave a comment. In my next exciting edition of this column, I'll share the voice of the people on this controversial topic. If you're deemed worthy enough, you might even be quoted.

This is part one of a two-part series. Please see part two at Pop-up ads: America's least wanted

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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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