Remember the era before all the websites began, when the online service world consisted of Compuserve, Prodigy, and America Online? As I remember it, every time you logged into AOL, you’d spend more than a few minutes waiting for “new art” to be downloaded, then when you finally got in you’d realize that the new art you waited for was a pop-up ad for something. It became worse and worse over the years, with those damn pop-up boxes coming up everywhere on AOL. They were far ahead of their time with intrusive marketing, and copied far and wide by websites that how litter the screen with ads.
So, I was amused to see, a few moments ago, an ad from AOL touting their new pop-up blocker. I didn’t see any small type on the screen disclaiming how it works, but I can only assume that it will only block pop-ups that aren’t from AOL’s paying advertisers.
As an aside, as I watch “The American President” on TNT right now, the television equivalent of pop-up ads is disturbingly evident – after a long block of commercials, when the movie came back on the picture was squished up into 2/3 of the screen, and a fully animated commercial for Diet Coke appeared in the bottom 1/3. Now they’re running commercials at the same time as the show. The bad news is that there is no blocking software for this incredible annoyance.[Update – C’mon ABC, do we really need a caption reading “Season Premiere” over The Practice? Oh, and where in the world has Chris O’Donnell been? Wasn’t he supposed to be the next Tom Hanks?]