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Pop-Up Ad Creator Apologizes

Ethan Zuckerman, the creator of the pop-up advertisement, recently wrote an article for The Atlantic apologizing for the tech, saying that he was the one who wrote the code so that an ad can launch in a separate window. The intentions were good, but he acknowledged that pop-ups have become the most hated advertiser's tool on the Internet.

So why were pop-up ads created? It started when he was working for Tripod.com from 1994 to 1999. Tripod created a website to provide services and content to college graduates, but that didn't pan out, so it decided to become a webpage host instead. The company tried a number of ways to generate revenue, but in the end, it had to rely on advertising.

"The model that got us acquired was analyzing users' personal homepages so we could better target ads to them," he said. "Along the way, we ended up creating one of the most hated tools in the advertiser's toolkit: the pop-up ad."

He said that the pop-up ad was the result of a car company complaining that it had purchased a banner ad that was shown on a pornography site. By throwing the ad in a pop-up window, the source ad wouldn't be associated with the website's content. Ultimately, what he wanted to create was a tool for Tripod.com that allowed users to express themselves, a service that was supported through ads.

"Charging users for the service would have blocked most of our potential customers — most of the world still doesn't have a credit card today, and fewer did in 1995," he said. "E-payment systems like PayPal didn't come online until 1999. But because Tripod's services were free and ad supported, users around the world found us and began posting webpages they could not host elsewhere."

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  • ickibar1234
    Thankfully popup blockers is standard equipment on most browsers and with adblock plus it really nukes just about all of them. Adblock plus is available even for IE now
    Reply
  • caqde
    Well I'm sure that if he decided not to make it back then someone else likely would have came up with the idea not to long afterwards..
    Reply
  • RCguitarist
    Thankfully popup blockers is standard equipment on most browsers and with adblock plus it really nukes just about all of them. Adblock plus is available even for IE now

    Yes, adblock plus is a program from the heavens. I do however have it disabled on my most visited websites to that they can continue to get revenue off of ads...like Tom's.
    Reply
  • kidneydone3
    The link to this article has "Ethan" misspelled as "Ehtan"
    Reply
  • mouse24
    Thankfully popup blockers is standard equipment on most browsers and with adblock plus it really nukes just about all of them. Adblock plus is available even for IE now

    Yes, adblock plus is a program from the heavens. I do however have it disabled on my most visited websites to that they can continue to get revenue off of ads...like Tom's.

    I agree, for toms though some ads are REALLY intrusive so I have it customized to show all except the intrusive ones.
    Reply
  • anthony8989
    Apology rejected.
    Reply
  • thor220
    Thankfully popup blockers is standard equipment on most browsers and with adblock plus it really nukes just about all of them. Adblock plus is available even for IE now

    Yes, adblock plus is a program from the heavens. I do however have it disabled on my most visited websites to that they can continue to get revenue off of ads...like Tom's.

    I agree, for toms though some ads are REALLY intrusive so I have it customized to show all except the intrusive ones.

    This is actually a compound problem. The people who do disable it for websites they visit allot are often bombarded with a ton of ads while others who keep it on get no ads.

    I really think they need to impose standards to ads on websites so that ad block is no longer necessary and everyone can chip in to website revenue. It's a win win really. End user sees few adds while website revenue increases.
    Reply
  • ingtar33
    i can't stay mad at ben franklin.
    Reply
  • hoofhearted
    Apologizing .... Cmon Please. If he was really sincere, then he would follow the way of the Samuri - Seppuku.
    Reply
  • dstarr3
    The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
    Reply