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Coder Behind Pop Up Ads ‘Very Sorry’

The code designer responsible for writing the original code behind the pop up advert, probably the most annoying thing you might come across during browsing the web. Not only are pop ads a nuisance, but of late they have been used to deliver viruses as well as adverts.

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Ethan Zuckerman, who is currently the head of the Center for Civic Media at MIT, described how he originally created the code which makes these pop up adverts work, and that, apparently, he’s sorry for the inconvenience it has caused to web users over the years.

A classic scene from computing history.

The code Zuckerman wrote was for a company called, which got all its funding from advertising at that time. It was the latter half of the 90’s, and the internet was in its very early stages. Sites needed to get revenue to keep up with the high costs of web hosting. They still do today, however, pop up ads are less common with reputable websites removing them entirely, and the ones that still exist being a vector for harmful malware.

So, why was the pop up ad created? Zuckerman explains. “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.”

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The need for these ‘external’ adverts came out of situations when adverts that just weren’t appropriate appeared directly on a website’s page, such as pornographic content on an automobile website, which just wasn’t the kind of content that websites would want to be associated with, especially if it was appearing next to their content.

The original code, once it was created, propagated itself across the whole of the internet. In the days of dial-up, banner ads and pop up ads were even more of a nuisance than they were today, slowing down the already sluggish loading of pages.

Zuckerman seemed apologetic for his earlier creation “I’m sorry. Our intentions were good,” he said, in an essay published on The, where he outlines the need for a new business model for funding websites that doesn’t use targeted advertising.

Modern solutions to the pop up ad problem.

Nowadays, we can combat nearly all advertising using ad blocking software. Websites have taken notice of this, with messages appearing to adblock users appealing for them to consider allowing the ads through to let revenue through. Advertising and ad blocking are precisely the reason that websites are now struggling to maintain revenue. Ethan Zuckerman wants to find another way. You can read his essay at the source link below.

Via: Pocket Lint

Source: The Atlantic