Though online ads have long been a popular way for companies to make some money off the web, it often comes at the cost of irritating us web surfers. Running into an advertising roadblock when we’re searching for information is often as grating as nails scratching on a blackboard. But on the flip side, advertisements are necessary because ad revenue is the reason why most web content is free. Because companies are constantly coming up with new ways to advertise online, we decided to compile a list of the five most annoying ads on the web.
Home page takeover ads – If you read The New York Times on the web, you must have viewed the BMW video ad that took up the entire home page two weeks ago (see the video here). Touting BMW’s new line of “clean” diesel fuel cars, the ad made The New York Times’ home page show up as a black screen until the BMW spokesperson in the ad clicked on a light and then took you to the standard home page. The ad still played in the right-hand side of the page, however. It was a jarring interruption in my morning routine.
CAPTCHA ads – If you’re setting up a new account on a web site or purchasing something online, you’ve probably been prompted to fill out a CAPTCHA. It’s those blurry, stretched-out jumble of letters and numbers you’re forced to type into a box. Apparently, Microsoft is using its own form of CAPTCHA to market its products, such as the Xbox 360 video game console. Is Microsoft really that obvious, or is this supposed to be sort of tongue-in-cheek?
Pop-under ads – Though pop-unders are an old-school type of online ad, you can still run into them. Pop-unders catch you unexpectedly, because the ads are hidden underneath your browser. Once you’ve closed the browser, then you see the ads staring right back at you. If you visit The Washington Post’s web site, you’ve likely run into pop-under ads like this one to the left.
Sponsored blog posts – Last month, The New York Times wrote an article about bloggers being reviewed by the Federal Trade Commission for writing about products that companies sent to them for free. Though many bloggers argue that they don’t write about a product unless they truly like it, the FTC has drafted a set of guidelines that may require online media to comply with disclosure rules. Still, it’s often hard for me to tell whether bloggers genuinely likes a product they’re writing about. (Online video stars, including Fred, have been known to advertise certain products during their video clips.)
Hover ads – A different take on traditional pop-up advertisements, Hover ads are the ones that pop up and play a video after you accidentally scroll over them with your mouse. The ad’s purpose is to distract you and hide some of the site’s content for a few seconds. Hover ads are especially annoying because you can’t use a pop-up blocker to prevent them. I often watch the whole video before figuring out how to close the ad. Here’s an example of a hover ad for Project Runway that I found on TV.com
So readers, what type of online ads get under your skin? Over here at the GigaOM Network, Simon at WebWorkerDaily can’t stand the “punch the monkey” ads and Chris at NewTeeVee gets miffed over credit score ads. Share what you think in the comments section.