Creator of the First Pop-Up Advertisement Apologizes

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Creator of the First Pop-Up Advertisement Apologizes

Pop Up Ads

The creator of the first pop-up advertisement, Ethan Zuckerman, advises us to build a better web.

Ethan Zuckerman never meant to turn the World Wide Web into an advertising-rampant fiasco. After creating the first pop up advertisement 20 years ago, Zuckerman wrote an article published in The Atlantic today apologizing and explaining the pitfalls of the ad-based business model.

It all started when a car company bought a banner ad celebrating anal sex. While working for Tripod.com, Zuckerman created the pop up ad to avoid association between a brand and a page's content. Zuckerman wrote the code that would launch a window with an advertisement in it.

"I'm sorry," Zuckerman wrote. "Our intentions were good."

Zuckerman defines today's internet as "the advertising-supported, 'free as in beer' constellation of social networks, services, and content." Much of what we consume on the internet is available to the consumer for free thanks to advertising, but this business model is a barrier.

Programmer Maciej Cegłowski delivered a lecture this May about online advertising that Zuckerman draws from on multiple occasions in his Atlantic article. In his talk, Cegłowski examines how the internet has become centralized -- particularly by Google - and how surveillance is the default internet business model.

"The Internet was Christmas for advertisers," Cegłowski said. "Suddenly you could know exactly who was looking at your ads, and you could target them by age, sex, income, location, almost any criterion you wanted."

As fewer people click on ads today, business turned to what Cegłowski calls "investor storytime," where businesses convince advertisers they'll become rich when they put ads on the business's site. Pinterest is one example, Cegłowski notes.

Public and private surveillance frequently cooperate with each other, and a revolving door exists between the industry and government, but most of the public outcry is over government surveillance. Online advertising today relies on targeting ads to specific users, and that requires monitoring what people are looking at. Zuckerman points out that advertising has the benefit of opening up services without users having to pay for it, but the disadvantages are still there. Beyond surveillance, Zuckerman argues, "investor storytime" asks media companies to create and share content that generates pageviews rather than thoughtful engagement, centralizes the internet, and asks users to provide personal information to engage.

Zuckerman never meant for this to happen when he created the first pop-up ad. "What I wanted was to build a tool that allowed everyone to have the opportunity to express themselves and be heard from anywhere from a few friends to the entire globe," he said.

Source: The Atlantic

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Why hasn't that man been drawn and quartered?

You know the saddest part? If the greedy advertisement moguls hadn't made their ads increasingly more annoying, from pop-up ads, to screaming flash banners, to interstitial pages on a timer, to click high-jacking, to ads that actually install spyware and can F-up your PC, people wouldn't have flocked en mass to software to stop these ads from appearing.

Advertisement is a necessity for the web since the only other real alternative is paywalls. But since opening yourself to ads means you risk all the annoyances and dangers the advertisement companies invented, there is very little incentive for people to do so.

Had they stuck with simple ad banners -- comparable to ads which appear in print publication and which I doubt anyone really minds -- I bet advertisement on the web would still be reliable way to fund websites.

Cars and anal sex, huh? Sounds like a Mallrats reference.

"You know those radio ads where two people with annoying voices yammer back and forth to each other? I invented those"
*Homer punches the man in the face*
"...Happens all the time."

...I'm not sure why I've just been thinking of Simpsons quotes to everything lately.

Y'know what though, the fact that this guy came out and apologized is actually a pretty cool move.

You know what? I can find it in my heart to forgive this guy. I have just enough good in me to believe that he had no idea what he hath unleashed. I believe that whole-heartedly and sincerely.

However, the guy that made TALKING ADS... THAT ASSHOLE HAS TO PAY!!!

FalloutJack:
You know what? I can find it in my heart to forgive this guy. I have just enough good in my to believe that he had no idea what he hath unleashed. I believe that whole-heartedly and sincerely.

However, the guy that made TALKING ADS... THAT ASSHOLE HAS TO PAY!!!

Worst offender? The one that goes SAY SOMETHING!!! Whomever invented that needs to be charged with the worst crimes humanity has to offer.

20 years to bloody late!!!!!

"oh look, looks like you haven't got this flash player" - THEN IT JUST DOWNLOADS IT AUTOMATICALLY FOR ME WITHOUT MY PERMISSION!! Which then turns out to be a spyware attack that my Anti-Virus software blocks and destroys.

You see, thanks to his stupid idea, you now have idiots trying to put spyware, viruses, unneeded crap to my PC because of "pop ups advertising" and it's fucked up. You click on 1 thing and you get 2-3 tabs open for no reason.

I don't think "Sorry" 20 years later is going to help you, Zuckerman.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Ethan Zuckerman never meant to turn the World Wide Web into an advertising-rampant fiasco.

Well nothing ever means to become that, but everything that becomes succesful will become that.

After the early adaptors come the advertisers. Google is not a search engine anymore but a cutthroat arms race between Google's algorithms and SEO companies. Social media is only useful as a marketing tool. And so forth.

I say let's go back to the days when the entire Web was a non-commercial labor of love on the part of the content creators.

Summon the council of the internet.
Vengeance is had this day.

Behold, one of the three, the first of the criminals darkening the internet. Stemming from their crimes, all net crimes reach. He now surrenders to justice. Now we can move on to more modern criminals, stopping the puppetmasters of Comcast Support.

Trishbot:
The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

This mostly sums up my thoughts on this as well. Additionally it seems like one would have had to have been phenomenally short-sighted, incredibly greedy or both to not see and/or care what this technology could become. That said, I'm pretty sure if this asshole hadn't invented this crap that someone else would have come up with something similar.

erbkaiser:
You know the saddest part? If the greedy advertisement moguls hadn't made their ads increasingly more annoying, from pop-up ads, to screaming flash banners, to interstitial pages on a timer, to click high-jacking, to ads that actually install spyware and can F-up your PC, people wouldn't have flocked en mass to software to stop these ads from appearing.

...

Had they stuck with simple ad banners -- comparable to ads which appear in print publication and which I doubt anyone really minds -- I bet advertisement on the web would still be reliable way to fund websites.

This is entirely true. Also, the fact that there are many advertising-serving companies who don't care about what goes through their services- allowing malware-laden ads to flow freely for months or even years- hasn't helped their case at all.

erbkaiser:
Advertisement is a necessity for the web since the only other real alternative is paywalls. But since opening yourself to ads means you risk all the annoyances and dangers the advertisement companies invented, there is very little incentive for people to do so.

And, yes, this is also true, as much as many people would like to pretend otherwise. Websites run on servers and require bandwidth, both of which cost money, and unless you are prepared to pay directly to keep the website afloat, you are going to have to put up with some sort of advertisements. You are not a special and precious snowflake and you do not "deserve" to have someone else pay out of their own pocket to keep supplying content to you out of the goodness of their heart.

Strain42:
"You know those radio ads where two people with annoying voices yammer back and forth to each other? I invented those"
*Homer punches the man in the face*
"...Happens all the time."

...I'm not sure why I've just been thinking of Simpsons quotes to everything lately.

Because after the 75 years they've been on TV, there's a quote for everything.

Steve the Pocket:
I say let's go back to the days when the entire Web was a non-commercial labor of love on the part of the content creators.

An internet where we wouldn't have the Escapist.

I find it hard to hate this one guy because, let's be honest, if he didn't do it someone else would have. Of course, I still think he and other advertising "innovators" will occupy the 7th circle of hell, but that's beside the point.

Oh? So he is the blame for the whole pop up ads in the first place! In saying so if he didn't came up with that idea first, someone else would of sooner or later.

You cannot stop the progress, if he hadn't done it, someone else would've.

roseofbattle:
It all started when a car company bought a banner ad celebrating anal sex.

I'm more interested in who thought that was a good idea. "X brand car, it's for sodomites!"

I'm not really sure where the correlation between him making pop-ups and the internet's business model as a whole came from. I mean the majority of ads online aren't pop-ups so I'm not really sure his creation really had as huge an effect as he seems to be implying, aside from pissing people off, it certainly had that effect.

RaikuFA:

FalloutJack:
You know what? I can find it in my heart to forgive this guy. I have just enough good in my to believe that he had no idea what he hath unleashed. I believe that whole-heartedly and sincerely.

However, the guy that made TALKING ADS... THAT ASSHOLE HAS TO PAY!!!

Worst offender? The one that goes SAY SOMETHING!!! Whomever invented that needs to be charged with the worst crimes humanity has to offer.

SAY SOMETHING!!! WhhAAAAAT?

nevarran:
You cannot stop the progress, if he hadn't done it, someone else would've.

^Most sensible response.
If he didn't create the pop up ad, someone else would have.
It was inevitable.

What's with guys with Zucker in their name that destines them to inadvertently(well, maybe not the case with Zuckerburg) make some sort of evil that poisons the internet for years? Anyone with those six letters together in your name, please don't go into a computing field. Stick with marine biology, civil engineering, etc. You might accidentally create a flash script that can hypnotize people into buying into all those scams on the banners adds. /joke

I was about to say what Atmos just above me said. Things have been invented within days of each other with the inventors not knowing a thing about the other's ideas. People are always finding solutions to a problem; he just got the "anal sex mobile" problem first. It's just too bad Zuckerman didn't have the mindset of today's tech world to patent that little bit of code. He (if the company he worked for wasn't one of those that steals your ideas with one of those clauses in the contract) could have wielded the power to let only the least intrusive ad campaigns through (or he could have becoming stinking rich since power corrupts).

Now if you will excuse me, I've got to get rid of this nutjob calling himself the WWWYZZERDD.

nevarran:
You cannot stop the progress, if he hadn't done it, someone else would've.

That sums up my thoughts on the matter. It's not like if he hadn't then we wouldn't have web adverts. I can't imagine it was too complicated to do, especially considering what the internet is capable of now.

As others have said though - whoever created audio ads have a special level of hell waiting just for them.

I do remember there being methods of stopping these even back in the early Windows 95/98 days. Alas, We can't actually discuss this lack of effects of popups on modern websites in any proper way. As There's an elephant in the room which is not allowed to be mentioned, ergo making the entire debate null and void.

I find it ironic reading an article about the dawn of distracting Web ads while my left and right sides of my screen are flanked by Diablo III: Reaper of Souls.

Objectable:
Why hasn't that man been drawn and quartered?

For the same reason Oppenheimer and Einstein weren't drawn and quartered for making the nuclear bomb. He didn't mis-use it, those who just took their designs and ran with it did.

And yet here at the escapist we still can't discuss methods to make the web less of "an advertising-rampant fiasco". Seems legit.

If not him then someone else would have done it, so i forgive him. But the guy who created that popup from hell that is impossible to get rid of without killing chrome though task manager deserves a special place in hell, i'm just glad that it's pretty rare.

Shanahanapp:
I'm not really sure where the correlation between him making pop-ups and the internet's business model as a whole came from. I mean the majority of ads online aren't pop-ups so I'm not really sure his creation really had as huge an effect as he seems to be implying, aside from pissing people off, it certainly had that effect.

Thats because rvery major browser, including IE, blocks popus by default eithout any additional software. And you need someshdy code to overwrite it. Meanwhile roaring full sound jeep ads covering text you want to read - good enough for the escapist. Seriuosly, websitea need to take advertisements lessons from reddit. The site is full of ads, bou you wount say that at first sight and the best thing is they dont get annoying.

Glaice:
I don't think "Sorry" 20 years later is going to help you, Zuckerman.

Even 10 years ago it probably wouldn't have bought him any sympathy.

Seeing how obnoxious and prevalent pop-up advertising is, I'm sure that Mr Zuckerman is crying all the way to the bank. But if it wasn't him who invented pop-up advertising, someone else would have done.

"I'm sorry," Zuckerman wrote. "Our intentions were good."

Hmm, now where have I heard this before...oh yeah that's right!

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