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Floaters are the New Pop-Ups 613

Posted by Zonk
from the oh-good-i-was-getting-tired-of-actually-reading-content dept.
windowpain writes "A prior Slashdot article discussed the ever-increasing ability of pop-up ads to break through adblocking software. Now the New York Times (registration required) is reporting that pop-ups are pooped out, replaced by those annoying "floaters" that are even more resistant to conventional pop-up blocking software. From the article: 'Not to be confused with pop-up ads, which open new windows and clutter virtual desktops, these floaters, or overlays, or popovers (no one can agree on a name), can evade the pop-up blockers that many Web browsers have incorporated. In the last year, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, which collects and analyzes data on Web advertising, the frequency of these ads has risen markedly, by almost 32 percent from December 2003 to December 2004, while pop-ups in that period declined by 41 percent.'"
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Floaters are the New Pop-Ups

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  • Not a problem (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:30AM (#11776672)
    With Mozilla [mozilla.org]/Firefox [mozilla.org] these new ads are actually not a problem. Just use a userContent.css [mozilla.org] file to block them.

    For example, I found some that use divs with IDs, so I just added something like:

    div#GF__p_0,
    div#floatpop { display: none !important;}

    And, poof, they're gone. Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out what to block, but the Webdeveloper extension [chrispederick.com] can help quite a bit.
    • by danormsby (529805) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:45AM (#11776859) Homepage
      Also not a problem with lynx [isc.org].
    • Re:Not a problem (Score:3, Informative)

      by ackthpt (218170) *
      That's helpful, I've been resorting to disabling javascript for some of them, but it screws with some sites i need javascript enabled for.

      There's alwasy some pricks trying to ruin the web for everyone else.

      • Re:Not a problem (Score:5, Insightful)

        by R.D.Olivaw (826349) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:58AM (#11777010)
        There's alwasy some pricks trying to ruin the web for everyone else.

        I hate pop-ups and floaters as much as the next guy but c'mon, you're on their website! It's not like they're sticking their ads on every website you visit withotut he site's approval. If you don't like their business model, do not visit the sites. simple.

        • Re:Not a problem (Score:5, Insightful)

          by arkanes (521690) <arkanes&gmail,com> on Friday February 25, 2005 @11:08AM (#11777116) Homepage
          It's a hard concept for advertisers to grasp, but annoying people doesn't work when they have the power to easily turn you off. A few years ago, pop up blocking was a pretty technical thing and you needed to be a geek to have it. Then it moved into the mainstream. Same will happen here. People don't bother to block adds which are unobtrusive and non-annoying. Use those, and all will be well.
          • Re:Not a problem (Score:5, Interesting)

            by spun (1352) <loverevolutionaryNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Friday February 25, 2005 @11:28AM (#11777346) Journal
            Enough people don't want to turn off ads, or don't know how, to make this profitable. I've noticed that many ads on TV seem deliberately designed to irritate through stupidity and repetition. Obviously irritation as an advertising strategy actually works with enough people to make it profitable. Consider that many of the people who read slashdot are (or like to think they are) more intelligent than the average person. I don't think the attitude expressed here is indicative of the attitude of the average web-surfer. A poster further down says his users would happily double click on a land-mine just to see what happens. I think that is more indicative of the general attitude of the average web-surfer. As long as there are stupid people, advertisers will cater to them.

            Obviously, what we need to do is get rid of all the stupid people. I suggest telling them there is a giant space goat coming to eat the planet and putting them all on some kind of space ark.
            • Re:Not a problem (Score:4, Interesting)

              by snorklewacker (836663) on Friday February 25, 2005 @01:26PM (#11778952)
              Irratation on TV works because it grabs your attention, and there isn't much you can do ab--***30-SECOND-SKIP***. Well, ok, but the PVR is not yet completely ubiquitous.

              However, I find myself keeping ad banners unblocked on a site ... _until_ they start flashing, shaking, and being generally obnoxious. If I can't conveniently scroll it off the screen or it appears on every page, out comes adblock, and that banner spot is gone FOREVER. It doesn't pay to cross the line on the web.

              You want to show me "brought to you by", or reserve even half the space on the page for ads, go for it. Just keep it calm. You get in my face like a used car salesman though, I'm gone from your site for the day, and your advertiser is gone from my browser for good.

        • Re:Not a problem (Score:3, Insightful)

          by KontinMonet (737319)
          And what site is that? Oh! It's a US site trying to sell me a truck I don't want or a bank I can't use 'cos I'm in Europe accessing a .COM or .NET site...
    • Re:Not a problem (Score:3, Informative)

      by DrEldarion (114072)
      With any browser they're not a problem.

      http://www.proxomitron.info [proxomitron.info]
    • Re:Not a problem (Score:5, Informative)

      by shird (566377) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:59AM (#11777018) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, until they start using random names for the floats.

      The solution is to not allow layered content like that to cover up the page in the actual browser core.

      This is similar to blocking popups using a *popup.html* filter instead of actual logic in the browser to prevent windows from appearing unless the user has clicked the mouse and requested them.
      • Re:Not a problem (Score:5, Informative)

        by JSBiff (87824) on Friday February 25, 2005 @11:11AM (#11777141) Journal
        While I agree that it is kind of a band-aid approach, your approach doesn't work either. If you disallow divs to overlap any other content, then you have just disabled a lot of non-offending uses of dhtml. For example, drop down menus that don't use flash (really, I'd rather have dhtml menus than flash menus). Lots of different types of animation effects (like, for example, maybe a web-app would use a 'slide-out' notifier to alert you when you have new messages, like when using a web-forum with private messaging built in).

        Some people use this in a highly annoying way, it's true. But the solution is NOT "to not allow layered content like that to cover up the page in the actual browser core." If you are going to do that, you might as well just turn off javascript, which most browsers will let you do, already.
        • Re:Not a problem (Score:3, Insightful)

          by shird (566377)
          Yes thats most definately true. However many sites previously used popups to display such content and yet the world hasnt come to an end with the introduction of popup blockers.

          Menus and dialogs etc are tricky though, as the browser cant detect when the user has requested it or not, and in some cases you may want it even when you don't manually request it.

          Perhaps instead would be a way where you could hold ctrl and click a layer and it would disappear. Too many times Ive seen ads with the little 'x' to cl
          • Re:Not a problem (Score:5, Insightful)

            by JSBiff (87824) on Friday February 25, 2005 @11:34AM (#11777442) Journal
            Perhaps instead would be a way where you could hold ctrl and click a layer and it would disappear.


            That is definitely a better solution. You still have to see the ad initially, but it at least returns control to the user. I'm all about user-control when it comes to the web. Control of your browser and your computer should rest with *you*, not some random, untrusted site on the public internet.
          • Re:Not a problem (Score:4, Interesting)

            by JSBiff (87824) on Friday February 25, 2005 @11:42AM (#11777518) Journal

            Oh, thought of one more response heh.

            However many sites previously used popups to display such content and yet the world hasnt come to an end with the introduction of popup blockers.

            That is partly because, in the case of popups, you can distinguish between a popup that the user wants (e.g. they clicked a link which opens content in a new window), and automatic popups. Popup blockers still allow new windows when you click a link, typically. They just kill automatic popups.

            Unfortunately, in the case of dhtml layers, it *is* harder, as you said, to distinguish. Maybe someone could think up a solution though, that doesn't throw the baby out with the bathwater, as it were.

        • Re:Not a problem (Score:4, Insightful)

          by CoderBob (858156) on Friday February 25, 2005 @12:27PM (#11778059)
          One thing bothers me about your argument:
          If you disallow divs to overlap any other content, then you have just disabled a lot of non-offending uses of dhtml. For example, drop down menus that don't use flash (really, I'd rather have dhtml menus than flash menus). Lots of different types of animation effects (like, for example, maybe a web-app would use a 'slide-out' notifier to alert you when you have new messages, like when using a web-forum with private messaging built in).

          Why do we even need drop-down menus on websites? Whatever happened to decently laid out sites that didn't contact the server every 10 seconds to see if there was an update? Web-forums with private messages? Let them notify me of a new message when I request a new page. Real-time dynamic content does not belong in a browser window.

          Maybe I'm just old fashioned here, but I don't see "the web" as something I want to turn into application software. Not over HTTP. Leave my HTTP alone, let me browse through information, maybe hit some server-side app here and there for quasi-dynamic content. Enough with the client-side stuff. The only thing I can even see running client side is a validation script that just checks to see values are entered into a form. Not that they are right (other than format, like ###-###-#### for a US phone #). Other than that, keep it on your damn server.

      • Just don't go to those sites that annoy you. For example, slashdot doesn't have these things. Nor does google news, the times, any of the other sites I visit regularly. The fact that so many people are annoyed by these things seems to point to the fact that they can't stop searching for [celebrity] porn. No one ever points out that the problems are with the dodgy sites.

        Another possibility is that people are not good at finding the more legitimate stuff they want and end up clicking links to dodgy sites. Th

    • Re:Not a problem (Score:5, Interesting)

      by buro9 (633210) <david AT buro9 DOT com> on Friday February 25, 2005 @11:02AM (#11777055) Homepage
      Not all adverts do have div ID's though, but thankfully we're still well within the realm of being able to use Adblock to nuke them.

      The adverts are usually served up by third party advert servers and thus looking at the adblock list of blockable elements... just block all items that are not on the domain for the site you're looking at.

      That takes care of 99% of floaters, popups, etc.

      The real problem is the next stage of advert evolution, which will be when content providers still use third parties to sell and supply adverts, but start to act as proxies for the adverts.

      When content providers are acting as proxies and adverts appear to come from the same domain and content management system as the content... then adverts will be VERY hard to block.

      The prevalence of adblock is going to increasingly push companies towards such solutions.

      They'll still need to monetise their sites, and whilst it used to be that they didn't care for a minority of people blocking adverts, when that is a fast growing minority and it's affecting their revenues... they will find ways around it.

      Just as the DRM rules state that if you can see and hear it you can bypass DRM and copy it... maybe a rule should be created for adverts: If you can see or hear the content, then advertisers CAN find a way to make you see or hear advertisements.
      • Re:Not a problem (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Seahawk (70898)
        The real problem is the next stage of advert evolution, which will be when content providers still use third parties to sell and supply adverts, but start to act as proxies for the adverts.

        I have a simple solution - don't use their site :)

        I dont think i know any site that i couldnt live without that use ads to get their revenue.

        So if thats what it comes to - fine, i wont be using such a site at all.
      • Re:Not a problem (Score:4, Informative)

        by josh3736 (745265) on Friday February 25, 2005 @11:38AM (#11777481) Homepage
        For Windows users, it's not a problem at all. The Proxomitron [proxomitron.info] solves every anti-Web annoyance need. It acts as a rewriting HTTP proxy based on regexps that runs on your own machine. If you see an ad that makes it through, just whip up a quick regexp and poof, it's gone, no matter what domain it comes from.

        Advertisers might be able to come up with new ways to make me see or hear their ads, but it will only happen once. It takes me only 2 minutes to ensure I never see their ad again. Honestly, when will Internet advertisers understand that when I've gone out of my way to block your ads, I really don't want to see them? I'm not going to say, "ooh! This guy figured out a way to get around my ad filters, he must make good products!" Get real. I'll never buy anything from X10 just because they were one of the biggest purveyors of popups back in the day.

        Annoying people is not a good way to convince them to buy your product.

      • Fortunately, AdBlock and Proxomitron (sorry - can't always spell that word) support filters based on REGEXP (Regular Expression)

        For instance, a filter in AdBlock which is simply /banner/ , /includes/ , /adverts/ will kill locally-hosted third-party content fairly easily. Once you have a good lexicon of terms used by ad-servers you'll kill nearly all ads automatically, then you can just add any others manually.

        Whats also great is that REGEXP can't be circumvented by the advertiser moving to a new doma
      • Re:Not a problem (Score:3, Informative)

        by cybergrue (696844)
        When content providers are acting as proxies and adverts appear to come from the same domain and content management system as the content... then adverts will be VERY hard to block.

        Actually, this depends on how they do it. I've seen lots of sites that host the advertising used on their site, and not the advertisers proxy. Sites that do this, usually have the ads stored in their own directory, something like /ads or /advertisment, or even /sponsors. The adblock plug-in for firefox allows wildcards, so y

    • AdBlock = easier (Score:5, Informative)

      by CdBee (742846) on Friday February 25, 2005 @11:12AM (#11777157)
      Adblock can also kill the floater by preventing it loading. (I prefer "floater" as its alternative meaning in British is that of a turd in water)

      • Re:AdBlock = easier (Score:3, Informative)

        by Dachannien (617929)
        Fortunately, Austin Powers ensured that the term "floater" is permanently ensconced in the American psyche as well - even though Beavis and Butt-Head introduced it many years previous.

  • Solution (Score:3, Funny)

    by dsginter (104154) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:30AM (#11776674)
    Solution Here [browser.org].

    Brand new, from what I hear.
  • by FTL (112112) * <.eman.resarf.lien. .ta. .todhsals.> on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:31AM (#11776680) Homepage
    There's no problem with floaters, they are no more evil than with blinking text, bad colour schemes or any other number of ugly special effects [fraser.name]. They are simply an attribute of the website. If you don't like them (I hate them), click the back button and go somewhere else.

    The problem with popups is that clicking the back button was not enough, one had to clean up the mess -- sometimes a mess that would keep respawning itself. Floaters look superficially similar to popups, but floaters are completely contained within the window. That makes them just another (usually bad) design feature.

    • Alternatively, you can think of them as popups that stay contained within your browser window. Just think, the tabbed browsing revolution has finally arrived in the world of popups! Thank you Mozilla!
    • by pete6677 (681676) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:49AM (#11776906)
      I'm not saying that these ads are evil, but I question the wisdom of forcing ads on people who have taken steps to block them. What does the advertiser expect to accomplish? If their site is struggling so much that the only way they can keep it online is by forcing obnoxious ads on people, the internet would be a better place without them. Make your ads relevant and not super annoying, and maybe people will actually be interested in them.
    • by j0e_average (611151) on Friday February 25, 2005 @11:07AM (#11777104)
      No, they are not evil.

      Actually, they indicate that you're getting enough fiber in your diet!

      My own stool, sir, are perfect. They are gigantic, and have no more odour than a hot biscuit" Dr John Kellogg (Anthony Hopkins)
    • That's not true.

      With pop-ups/unders, you can get rid of them by closing the browser window that contains them -- this is something that is under the control of the browser application/OS, not the web page.

      Floaters are integrated into the page content, so there are no standard browser controls available to remove them -- you have to rely on any provision that has been made within the floater/containing web page to remove it.

      I would not trust that clicking on part of a floater will remove it and not just l
    • by shird (566377)
      I do agree with you in most part, and am unsure why you would get modded down. However.. many of those 'floaters' originate from external sites through banner ads placed on the site, which then 'breaks' out of the banner space and interrupts your browsing of the original site.

      This tends to happen because ads are 'inlined' rather than iframed, to prevent adblockers and such, and therefore can happily slap layers all over the whole browser window.

      If there were an option to turn those layers off, Id certainl
  • windows (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fideli (861469) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:31AM (#11776684)
    I saw one of those on my OS X screen the other day. It actually looked like a Windows window. Kinda funny, really. Nostalgic for me anyway.
  • by stecoop (759508) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:32AM (#11776690) Journal
    I bet the rate of change for pup-up decline was correlated to the rate of change to Mozilla users until Microsoft SP2 was forced to offer pop up blocking. The floaters can have their day and again Mozy users have a slight advantage [mozdev.org]. If IE users get tired of it then I imagine the only company in an real danger would be Macromedia from people simply refusing to install advertisement generating software on their own machine.
    • I haven't installed Flash in a long time. There is nothing Flash can do that html cannot, except make the page cutesy and ten times longer to load. It also makes it impossible to navigate.

      But the big bonus is just by not installing Flash, at least half of ads don't load -- in particular, the most obnoxious ones.
  • by sl8r (104278) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:32AM (#11776692)
    There's a nice lil extension to firefox called "Remove this object" that gets rid of those stupid "floaters" (i call 'em div layers, only cos that's what they are).
  • AdBlock (Score:3, Informative)

    by martingunnarsson (590268) * <martin&snarl-up,com> on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:32AM (#11776697) Homepage
    I guess the question is if something like AdBlock can filter out these without getting a lot of false positives, making the browser render of a lot of pages incorrectly.
  • Obviously... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by larsoncc (461660) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:32AM (#11776709) Homepage
    I think that at this point, it's obvious we need a "block javascript from this domain" extension or a "block javascript from this web folder" extension.

    Same with iFrames (which is already implemented well in AdBlock)...

    It's so obvious I'd be surprised if the functionality doesn't already exist.
    • Re:Obviously... (Score:3, Informative)

      by davez0r (717539)
      dude, it's in adblock!

      you can block scripts as well as iframes for the page from the little adblock menu in the lower right.
  • I wish... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Quasar1999 (520073) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:33AM (#11776713) Journal
    I wish that the pop-over ads would only pop-over when I hovered over them... a bunch of ads from Dell I've seen seem to do that... and I appreciate that... it sits there like a banner, and when I hover over it, it expands and does it's nice flash ad... but the ones that do it 5 seconds after the sight loads (car adverts on CNN anyone?) I really hate... it's annoying and ensures that I will never consider watching it...

    A bit of courtesy from the advertisers and I am willing to watch it if it catches my fancy, but if they throw it in my face, they ain't getting anything but rage from me.
  • by bigtallmofo (695287) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:33AM (#11776718)
    How many internet marketers would, if the technology were available, opt to have a physical hand come out of someone's monitor and slap them in the face until they read your ad?

    I just wonder where some marketers draw the line.
    • by Tackhead (54550) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:41AM (#11776823)
      > How many internet marketers would, if the technology were available, opt to have a physical hand come out of someone's monitor and slap them in the face until they read your ad?
      >
      >I just wonder where some marketers draw the line.

      "There's a line?"
      - Some marketoon

      I can only say this: Given that marketroids tend to surf with IE, Flash enabled, and Javascript enabled, and I tend to surf with Mozilla, Flash disabled, and Javascript disabled (through the use of the PrefBar extension), and have never seen a "floater" anywhere other than my toilet bowl, I'd very much like to see an over-the-Internet face-slapping technology developed.

      • by cpghost (719344) on Friday February 25, 2005 @11:35AM (#11777446) Homepage

        [...] I'd very much like to see an over-the-Internet face-slapping technology developed.

        Easy, if you replace face-slapping with electro-shocking.

        • Sell new keyboards and mice that deliver electric shocks of varying intensity (ever seen Never Say Never Again?).
        • Have the W3C implement the new ESTP protocol (Electric Shock Transport Protocol) specification and associated (XML-like?) tags.
        • Marketers can now "shock" users that don't click on the ads.
        • ...
        • Profit!

        If you thought that you could get away with using rubber gloves, you are dead wrong: this is a circumvention, and you'll be hit by the DMCA!

  • Floaters (Score:3, Funny)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:34AM (#11776725) Journal
    ... should be flushed.
  • by cablepokerface (718716) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:34AM (#11776731)
    ... are the 'in-between' pages with advertising. You are reading an article, want to go from page 2 to 3 and boom, you end up on a completely different page.
    • by hazee (728152)
      And I think that will ultimately become the most prevalent ad type because I can't see any way of getting around it at all.

      Unlike all these pop-ups and pop-unders and "floaters" and the like, if you click on the link to a page and are served a different page instead, then it's completely out of your control, and there's nothing at all that your browser can do about it. Disabling javascript or whatever won't help - you asked for a page, you got served a page, and the fact that the content isn't what you wer
  • Article Text (Score:3, Informative)

    by th1ckasabr1ck (752151) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:35AM (#11776744)
    If you happened upon nj.com in the last month, you might have noticed a clucking penguin waddling across the computer screen, stumbling over text as it promoted a local utility company.

    On a cricket league chat board in New Zealand, exasperated users have been deluged with floating squares that try to interest them in mattresses, dating services and officially licensed trinkets from the "Lord of the Rings" film trilogy.

    Not to be confused with pop-up ads, which open new windows and clutter virtual desktops, these floaters, or overlays, or popovers (no one can agree on a name), can evade the pop-up blockers that many Web browsers have incorporated.

    In the last year, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, which collects and analyzes data on Web advertising, the frequency of these ads has risen markedly, by almost 32 percent from December 2003 to December 2004, while pop-ups in that period declined by 41 percent.

    The floater ads, often using a computer's Macromedia Flash Player to run, overlay the content of the page rather than spawning new windows. They have been around since 2001, but their rise has been abetted by the growing use of high-speed Internet connections, allowing them to play with greater ease.

    Floaters are one example of a variety of online ads known in the industry as rich media. Some variants include banner ads that expand to show graphics and streaming video when the cursor is waved over them; a tamer version packs the video and graphics into a static, or polite, banner. All have a common characteristic: they cannot be categorically blocked by existing technology.

    To many, they are just as irritating as pop-up ads, if not more so. On the New Zealand cricket chat board, one user declared, "This form of advertising is without a doubt the most ridiculous and offensive form I have ever come across."

    But as with pop-ups (before pop-up blockers), their appeal to advertisers is simple: they get people to click, usually transporting them to the advertiser's site. While static Web ads typically have "click through" rates of 0.5 percent of viewers, according to numerous industry studies, the rate for pop-ups and floaters is 3 percent to 5 percent, though some studies suggest that many of those clicks are attempts to get rid of the ad.

    According to Nielsen/NetRatings, the sites on which such ads were most common in the year ended in December were three Microsoft sites - www.msn.com, www.msnbc.com and Hotmail - followed by espn.com and www.yahoo.com.

    Although most advertisers and the sites where the ads appear seem happy with the use of the floater ads, recent research suggests problems. A study of 2,500 British Internet users released last month by OMD UK found that just as many Web users (44 percent) were annoyed with floaters as they were with pop-ups. Many major sites, like nytimes.com and www.msn.com, limit the number of times a person is shown such an ad. (At nytimes.com, the limit is once per visit to the site.)

    "We want to do something that's informative and entertaining as opposed to being annoying," said Joanne Bradford, vice president and chief media revenue officer for msn.com. "That's our guiding principle." To that end, the company introduced on Feb. 1 a design that limited the number of ads on the main page. (Ms. Bradford would not say by how much.) The action, she noted, did prompt "a little bit of squawking" from advertisers.

    Some are trying to figure out other ways to stop the onslaught. Mozilla, designer of the popular (and free) Web browser Firefox, which offers a pop-up blocker, is trying to block floater ads as well, but has so far been unsuccessful, said Chris Hofmann, director of engineering for the Mozilla Foundation. "It really is an arms race," he said.

    Jarvis Coffin, chief executive of Burst Media, a company that sells advertising for more than 2,000 Web sites, said that even though he is a fan of the "rich media" ads, he warns that advertisers should understand that they cannot deluge people with the technology without consequence. "Just because you can do it doesn't make it a smart thing to do," he said.

  • I believe I speak for many when I say
    "Who the Hell actually clicks on all the popups,popovers,floaters,ads and logos anyway?"

    I can safely say the only time I click on an ad when online, is when my mouse slips?
    I suppose it must be like spam. The percentage of suckers is incredibly low, but if ads are 10% of internet content, then you'll get a few hits.
    Still though, I mean, what kind of person goes around saying "Oh! I do want a cheaper morgage!!" *CLICK*. Do any slashdotters have some amusing tales of such perpetually clueless lusers in their domains?
    • You are making a big mistake if you think that click-through rates are the only important factor when it comes to ads, though.

      Think about ads on TV - obviously, noone ever clicks those. People are just (passively) subjected to them while they wait for their favourite shows/movies/... to start/resume, and many will in fact use the break to do other things, or turn of the sound so they don't have to listen to the ads (I do that), or switch to another channel (my parents do that), or other such things.

      Nevert
    • by Talsin (164230) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:59AM (#11777020)
      I support a group of almost 100 20 something women that work in the advertising business doing spot radio buys. I can honestly say any of them would happily double click a landmine just to see what happens.

      There is no sig
    • by JimDabell (42870)

      I can safely say the only time I click on an ad when online, is when my mouse slips?

      I've clicked on an advert and bought something.

      It was a small, text-only advert that simply gave the relevent product details: root on a FreeBSD virtual server for $65/mo, no set-up fee [johncompanies.com]. I saw it, I thought it sounded like a good deal, clicked through, their website was simple and clear, so I signed up. They've given excellent service with the best technical support I've ever found in a hosting company, and I've b

  • CSS + Javascript (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rdc_uk (792215) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:36AM (#11776752)
    Ultimately, what is required is for the browser (whichever one) to control what elements of CSS and Javascript sites are allowed to use.

    Ergo; the user can simply dissallow CSS allowing flying elements ("float"-ing is a different thing, you see).

    There needs to be a definite shift from the web-site having "control" unless the browser is patched to snatch it back, towards the web-page being permitted to do its thing within certain boundaries (boundaries that the user is in control of).

    The rush to provide "web applications" runs contary to this; web pages are DATA, not programs and the further we go from that state, the more invasive mal-intentioned pages can be (example; ActiveX)
  • Flashblock (Score:3, Informative)

    by alnjmshntr (625401) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:36AM (#11776760)
    Many of those floaters are created using flash, so use Flashblock to prevent them from showing.
    Flashblock and AdBlock == good surfing experience.
  • by Jugalator (259273) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:37AM (#11776764) Journal
    I like how New York Times has adapted to /.'ers and their care for reading through long articles.
    This time, the non-membership Slashdot version seeems to be:
    Floater Ads, the Cousins to Pop-Ups, Evade the Blockers

    By JONATHAN MILLER
    Published: February 24, 2005

    Floater ads, which open new windows and clutter virtual desktops, can evade the pop-up blockers that many Web browsers have incorporated.
    Brilliant!
  • I don't mind them... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rendus (2430) <rendusNO@SPAMcox.net> on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:37AM (#11776771)
    I don't mind in-page ads of any sort nearly as much as I mind the new windows. The in-window ads aren't any more effort to work around, unless they block the content of the page (which is becoming more common, unfortunately).

    The problem with popups wasn't the one new window.. It's playing Whack-A-Mole with the 32 pops spawned by that one.
  • Not effective anyway (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DrinkingIllini (842502) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:38AM (#11776784)
    Don't these people look at any research, or are these just web developers with no actual marketing skills? Simple text based ads have been proven to be more effective than any form of internet advertisement, why do you think Google uses them?
  • Fax/printer spam (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WickedClean (230550) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:38AM (#11776789) Homepage
    I'm surprised nobody has come up with someting to hijack my printer and print out color ads for crappy vacations and stock purchase news. We get the faxes every day here at work
  • Sollution. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tetsugaku-San (717792) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:40AM (#11776800) Homepage
    Turn off Flash - I've never found a convincing argument to have it other than the odd well made animation - and these are few and far between, turning flash on and off should be a lot easier but aprt from that -it works.
    • Re:Sollution. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by DustMagnet (453493) on Friday February 25, 2005 @11:50AM (#11777622) Journal
      I spent years looking for a way to turn off flash. Macromedia doesn't allow you to do it. If you don't install it, you get bugged constantly to install it. Then came Homestar Runner, so I need flash. Recently someone on Slashdot pointed out a Firefox extension called Flashblock. It's perfect. Replaces all flash with a clickable icon and you can easily whitelist a site from a right-click menu.
  • Floaters? (Score:3, Funny)

    by NardofDoom (821951) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:41AM (#11776821)
    I hate floaters. You flush and flush and they never go down.
  • by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:42AM (#11776825) Journal
    People keep saying "Firefox cures ads! Adblock and such!". Well the more popular firefox gets (I've used it since the Phoniex days and have noticed this as it's got more popular), the more people will try and break it. This is also the downside to being open source, while everyone can view the source code, it also means everyone can see the holes in it.

    The more people that use firefox the more things like this will pop up, so we'll end up playing catch up over and over (and lets face it, the release yesterday proved how bad the update system is right now) untill people get sick of it and use a new browser which fixs this.

    Now watch the post get 12 million replies saying "Yea like Usenet and Windows! Firefox is going to die hahahaha".
    • by bersl2 (689221)
      (and lets face it, the release yesterday proved how bad the update system is right now)

      They haven't even activated the update service yet. They are waiting for a few days until the manual downloaders are done swamping the servers.

      Source [spreadfirefox.com]:

      We'll be turning on the application update mechanism starting next week. Given the daunting task of updating all the people who have downloaded and are using Firefox today, we've elected to stagger the update over several days.

      Chris [Beard, Mozilla Foundation]

  • by Mirk (184717) <slashdot@miketaylo r . org.uk> on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:43AM (#11776838) Homepage
    I just don't get it. What kind of moronic company would pay money to "advertise" its product by irritating the heck out of everyone who sees it? If there is a more cast-iron way of making me hate a product so much that I will never buy it, it's by having it get in my face when I am trying to read something.

    These "floaters" remind me of that childish thing where someone leaps around thrusting their hands in front of your face going, "Not touching! Can't get mad!" Oh, yeah. That behaviour is really going to make me want to buy your product.

    Since "floater" is (in England, anyway) slang for a turd that can't be flushed away, the name is at least appropriate.

    • Annoying ads (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Craig Ringer (302899)
      Some marketoids actually view annoying ads as the best, on the theory that they stand out. I really hope they're not right.

      I know I've refused to deal with companies before because of their advertising, but I'm not sure the majority of folks will.
  • by MrCam (97813) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:45AM (#11776866)
    To fix popover ad's, stupid colors or layers they overlap so I can't read a page, I just click the the little user mode button. The background turns to white, all the text becomes black with the standard font and all the bad CSS crap gets turned off. And if I need it back I just click to turn Author mode back on.
    I don't know if Fire Fox has this option but for those of you more involved with the project it would be a nice added feature.
  • how do they work? (Score:4, Informative)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare AT gmail DOT com> on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:46AM (#11776879) Homepage Journal
    dhtml z-index?
    • Re:how do they work? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by trick-knee (645386)
      > dhtml z-index?

      yeah, that's what I was thinking, too. it's gotta be on top, so it'll have the highest z-index in the page. maybe the browser could look at all the layers, take the top one (highest z-index) and either display it as the lowest. or somehow indicate to the user that the top layer's been removed.

      again, however, doing this in a blanket fashion could hork up sites that (a) use z-index, and (b) do not use floaters.
  • by Yekrats (116068) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:54AM (#11776969) Homepage
    After using Dan Pollock's hosts file [someonewhocares.org] for a few months, virtually all of that monkey business has disappeared. That, Firefox [getfirefox.com], and Adblock [mozdev.org] have made the web bearable for me.
  • Easy fix for all ads (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jagasian (129329) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:56AM (#11776997)
    1. Install Firefox.
    2. Enable popup blocking
    3. Install Adblock [mozdev.org]
    4. Install filter rule set [geocities.com] for Adblock.

    Every now and then, Adblock lets an ad through, but you can just right-click it and select "block ad", which augments your filter rule set. Now a real killer feature for Adblock would be for it to somehow filter ad indirection pages, i.e. you go to a page but are indirected through a page with a giant ad. Currently that page will look mostly empty because Adblock blocks the giant banner, but maybe Adblock could be improved to auto-skip to the next page... which should be easy to find because it is the redirect URL.
  • by entrager (567758) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:59AM (#11777026)
    ...these floaters, or overlays, or popovers (no one can agree on a name)...
    I think "floaters" is a completely appropriate name.
  • Complain (Score:5, Interesting)

    by krgallagher (743575) on Friday February 25, 2005 @11:00AM (#11777031) Homepage
    Here is an email I sent Foxnews.com:

    "I believe it would be in your companies best interest to institute a policy that your banner advertisments cannot make sounds unless a user is interacting with them.
    You are currently running a banner add on your web site that is extremely anoying. It says "Swat the fly and get a free $250 gift certificate," and has a fly flying around and your mouse turns into a fly swatter when you mouse over it. The anoying thing is that it makes a buzzing sound even if you do not do anything.
    Your web site auto refreshes at regular intervals. I usually leave my browser open on your site durig the day while I work and periodically check the headlines and read the articles. Imagine my surprise when, while I am working with my browser minimized, my computer suddenly begins to buzz. I use firefox for a browser, and usually have at least seven news sites open in tabs at once. It took me quite some time to find which site had an add that was playing the anoying buzzing sound.
    Since I cannot prevent your site from auto refreshing, eventually that banner add will come back up. As a result, I am not going to be able to leave your site open today. That is a real shame because I relly enjoy your web site and read it daily. Unfortunately that annoying sound will drive me nuts and prevent me from getting my work accomplished.
    Thank you for your time. I hope you will take my advice and change your advertising policy.
    "

    This was their response:

    "Thanks for writing. We've been deluged with complaints about this ad. It was served by a third party advertiser, and we're working to track it down and remove it. If it does crop up again in the future, please don't hesitate to email us right away."

    I was really surprised at the response. I guess since they are a legitimate news site (gonna get flamed for that), they cannot afford to have their advertisers driving their readers away from the site. Still I sent a similar email to abcnews.com for a similar ad a couple of months ago and the response was the exact oposite. I did not save the email but they basically told me to screw myself.

    • Re:Complain (Score:3, Interesting)

      by aug24 (38229)
      I sent mail to the advertisers of 28 Days Later saying that their ad (which sort of vibrated) was incredibly annoying, and that therefore I was blocking their server (I prefer to let them know you see) for the time being.

      The response (not auto, an actual person): Yes, it's out on DVD in the UK *now*!

      My response was along the lines of 'I am /trying/ to point out that your ad is annoying, not enquire about the film'.

      Theirs: What are you talking about? It's already released! Go buy it!

      Total fuckwittery.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Friday February 25, 2005 @11:14AM (#11777181) Homepage
    I believe it would be a natural extension of today's marketting techniques to use forms of pain and torture as a means of convincing people to buy your products and services. Clearly, being nice and friendly doesn't work any longer.

    Let's just glance at the trends to see where they are going. With TV, they started with commercial spots which were actually convenient because if gave you the opportunity to get up and get a drink, make a sandwich or go use the bathroom. But lately, with the excessive amounts of commercials you have time to do all three of those things. Now they are corrupting our entertainment with product placement within the entertainment itself. Annoying...but livable since they have only the ability to make sounds and video so it kind of limits what they can do. (Though I make predictions that they will begin adding ear-drum-peircing tones to the beginning and end of each commercial to take advantage of the new pain marketting techniques.)

    The same generally applies to radio where the commercial air time obviously swarfs the amount of entertainment air time. But again, ear-drum shattering tones, not unlike the Emergency Broacast System tests, will mark the beginnings and ends of advertisments on the radio.

    With computers and internet, we have suffered greatly from the creative genius of marketters who clearly illustrate they have no moral boundaries. They spam us, we block them, they find ways around the blocks and keep spamming. Now what marketting genius thinks it is a good idea to skirt what amounts to security measures in order to get your advertisment through? In some places it's a criminal offense to ignore a "No Soliciting" sign. How about climing over a security fence in order to place a handbill on your door? Is it okay? Or what about picking the lock of your back door (a clear invitation since you have a back door, it must mean you want someone to come in through it right?) in order to stick something on your refridgerator (and then count all the items in your food storage to see what you've been eating and buying)? Would this be acceptable? No, guess not. Marketters would think it's equally ridiculous...or would they..? (Do you think I just gave them a bad idea? D'oh!)

    I have proposed this idea in the past and I believe I got some support for the idea at the time but now I'm almost ready to start the push myself. Let's make a "mark" in the minds of the consumers out there.

    I think we should hire some people to go around and beat up random strangers on the street. The advertising comes in when you script the ass-kickin' with commercial messages. Timing is crucial. For example, if I were advertising Viagra, a kick in the crotch should happen at exactly the moment the product name is mentioned. This works directly as the word "Viagra" will be stuck in the mind of the recipient for a LONG LONG time. And indirectly, as you see people holding their damaged "goods" and you ask them what happened, they can simply answer "Viagra" and the message will be clear.

    I have considered many ways in which pain would be an effective marketting tool and the scenario above is just one example.

    Popups are for wimps.
  • by javatips (66293) on Friday February 25, 2005 @11:23AM (#11777279) Homepage
    If you do not like "floaters" or ad on a web site, just don't visit it.

    I agree that popups are bad because they grab your screen real estate, they go outside the content provider space into your personal space.

    But floaters do not use any of your personal space. When you visit a website, you are giving the content provider some space on your screen. In return it provides you with content of interest. If in addition, in the same space you are allowing him to use, it provides ads, just live with it.

    And if you don't like the way he serve ads, then just leave the site.

    If a web site become too anoying, I either complain to the site operator or just leave the site and not return to it anymore.

    We don't need to escalade the arm race against ads... We already have way to disable ads images ans popups. We also have a way of saying to content provider that the way they display ads annoys us. I believe that's more than enough!
  • Poisoning the well (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tgibbs (83782) on Friday February 25, 2005 @11:27AM (#11777334)
    The companies that create these intrusive ads are undermining the interests of their clients, both the advertisers and the web sites that run advertisements. As this continues, more and more users will start to turn off Flash, Java, and Javascript, and block ads entirely with products such as Privoxy. The net effect will be reduced advertising revenue for everybody and more good web sites going under.

    I anticipate that the next generation of web browsers will include whitelist capabilities that allow users to enable these features only for "well behaved" web sites that refuse to allow intrusive advertising.
  • by Toy G (533867) <toyg@l[ ]ro.it ['ibe' in gap]> on Friday February 25, 2005 @11:39AM (#11777488) Homepage Journal
    Ads too annoying? Change your information sources. This has already happened: remember that we used to love Altavista, then everybody switched over to Google because it was ad-free... We used to love portals, then they went ad-crazy, and we switched to a number of different tools (aggregators, google, etc). Sometimes down the line, one has to think "Is the information on this site worth all the hassle?". The more they push ads down our throat, the more we will look for (or build) alternatives... just think about RIAA's "success" against p2p.
  • by MtViewGuy (197597) on Friday February 25, 2005 @12:23PM (#11778022)
    These new "floater" ads can be stamped out if you have the right functionality in the web browser itself.

    I'm currently running MySoft Technology's Maxthon (formerly MyIE2) shell program for Internet Explorer 5.x and later, which has a very powerful function called AD Hunter. AD Hunter not only blocks mostly pop-up windows, but also the vast majority of "floating" ads, Flash animated ads, a large number of online static ads and even allows you to block ActiveX objects! :-) I wonder why Mozilla 1.7.x and Firefox 1.x doesn't offer this level of blocking control without having to do a lot of manual configuration with third-party add-ons.
  • Article text (Score:3, Informative)

    by DroopyStonx (683090) on Friday February 25, 2005 @12:24PM (#11778031)
    I don't know why these people submit reg-free links to nytimes... guess some people never learn.

    Anyway, here's the article text:

    IF you happened upon nj.com in the last month, you might have noticed a clucking penguin waddling across the computer screen, stumbling over text as it promoted a local utility company.

    On a cricket league chat board in New Zealand, exasperated users have been deluged with floating squares that try to interest them in mattresses, dating services and officially licensed trinkets from the "Lord of the Rings" film trilogy.

    On the Web, the floater's time has come.

    Not to be confused with pop-up ads, which open new windows and clutter virtual desktops, these floaters, or overlays, or popovers (no one can agree on a name), can evade the pop-up blockers that many Web browsers have incorporated.

    In the last year, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, which collects and analyzes data on Web advertising, the frequency of these ads has risen markedly, by almost 32 percent from December 2003 to December 2004, while pop-ups in that period declined by 41 percent.

    The floater ads, often using a computer's Macromedia Flash Player to run, overlay the content of the page rather than spawning new windows. They have been around since 2001, but their rise has been abetted by the growing use of high-speed Internet connections, allowing them to play with greater ease.

    Floaters are one example of a variety of online ads known in the industry as rich media. Some variants include banner ads that expand to show graphics and streaming video when the cursor is waved over them; a tamer version packs the video and graphics into a static, or polite, banner. All have a common characteristic: they cannot be categorically blocked by existing technology.

    To many, they are just as irritating as pop-up ads, if not more so. On the New Zealand cricket chat board, one user declared, "This form of advertising is without a doubt the most ridiculous and offensive form I have ever come across."

    But as with pop-ups (before pop-up blockers), their appeal to advertisers is simple: they get people to click, usually transporting them to the advertiser's site. While static Web ads typically have "click through" rates of 0.5 percent of viewers, according to numerous industry studies, the rate for pop-ups and floaters is 3 percent to 5 percent, though some studies suggest that many of those clicks are attempts to get rid of the ad.

    According to Nielsen/NetRatings, the sites on which such ads were most common in the year ended in December were three Microsoft sites - www.msn.com, www.msnbc.com and Hotmail - followed by espn.com and www.yahoo.com.

    Although most advertisers and the sites where the ads appear seem happy with the use of the floater ads, recent research suggests problems. A study of 2,500 British Internet users released last month by OMD UK found that just as many Web users (44 percent) were annoyed with floaters as they were with pop-ups. Many major sites, like nytimes.com and www.msn.com, limit the number of times a person is shown such an ad. (At nytimes.com, the limit is once per visit to the site.)

    "We want to do something that's informative and entertaining as opposed to being annoying," said Joanne Bradford, vice president and chief media revenue officer for msn.com. "That's our guiding principle." To that end, the company introduced on Feb. 1 a design that limited the number of ads on the main page. (Ms. Bradford would not say by how much.) The action, she noted, did prompt "a little bit of squawking" from advertisers.

    Some are trying to figure out other ways to stop the onslaught. Mozilla, designer of the popular (and free) Web browser Firefox, which offers a pop-up blocker, is trying to block floater ads as well, but has so far been unsuccessful, said Chris Hofmann, director of engineering for the Mozilla Foundation. "It really is an arms race," he said.

    Jarvis Coffin, chief executive of Burst Media, a company t
  • by Animats (122034) on Friday February 25, 2005 @12:52PM (#11778427) Homepage
    Browsers need some work to deal with this. Firefox has some real opportunities here.

    First, we need to get Flash under user control. This may require implementing an open-source Flash player, or beating hard on Macromedia. Flash animations need to respond to a "block all images from this site" right-click. All animations should come up static, dimmed, and silent, requiring user action to activate them. This keeps the annoyance level down.

    Then we need to make page ownership hierarchical. If a page opens another window, the new window is considered a child of the parent window. When the parent window closes, so must the child.

    Further, child windows should be restricted to the area of the parent window. They must be in front of the parent, and they must have some minimal overlap. (Restricting them to the parent window frame is probably too restrictive, but requiring some overlap means they can't move freely around the screen.)

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