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How YOU can stop the plague of loud flash ads

Unless you live in a different Internet to me, you can’t have failed to notice the abundance of annoying flash-based ads which make irritating noises.

Perhaps the best example of this is the horrific buzzing mosquito you can only shut up by attempting to win a laptop, it starts buzzing without any activity from you at all. If you haven’t seen a copy yet I’ve hosted it here. But there’s also the talking smilie faces, the voices whispering about you, etc. If you use a tabbed browser and have as many tabs open as I do, you have to search through them all to find the culprit.

And it’s not only the loud flash ads that are problematic, ads on newspapers cover the text you want to read and have confusing, hard to find ‘X’ buttons.

The solution
This whole situation seems very reminiscent of another form of advertising, the popup. Popups used to be everywhere, they were really irritating. Then browsers and toolbars came in that blocked them. Now, even if you use a legacy browser without a popup blocker, you’ll be hard pressed to find many popup ads.

Why? Because there’s no point in them. It’s a waste of bandwidth to send the javascript to make a window popup if 90% of your users won’t see it. So many websites have moved to advertisements which their users appreciate more, like contextual advertising (Google Adwords, etc.) which displays things people might actually be interested in if they’re on your page.

Some however have embraced the almost equally irritating flash ads. But we can make them stop, as we made popups stop. If a significant proportion of the internet installs flash ad blockers it will become economically unviable to fill space on a website with an irritating flash ad, when it could be filled with text-ads visible to all.

Firefox users

fb.jpgThere is a firefox extension called AdBlock which will block all advertisements. I’m against this (as a publisher who makes money from text-ads) because it removed the only revenue stream from a lot of websites and would force a lot of sites to close. We should block unreasonable ads rather than all ads. We consider popups unreasonable and I think we should consider most flash ads unreasonable too. Inobstrusive text ads are not, in my opinion.

So instead use FlashBlock, it replaces all Flash animations with a little play button you can click to make them appear. It’s really unobtrusive, using Flash based websites isn’t hard. You can add sites like youtube to a whitelist to avoid too many play buttons.

Internet Explorer users

fb1.jpgWell my first advice would be get Firefox, it’s so much better, but I know you’ve heard that a thousand times before.
So if you really must continue using IE I suggest you try FlashSwitch which lets you toggle flash in the system tray.

If as many people as possible take these measures it will soon become pointless to display annoying flash ads.

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  • Slarty Bartfast · May 21, 2008 at 8:06 am

    I agree with your comments, with one caveat to readers; I use Adblock extensively. While it works very well, Adblock itself updates almost daily, and when it does it always takes you to it’s own site upon initial startup. This amounts to a pop-up ad all on it’s own. Consequently, I’ve adopted a policy of only allowing it to install updates on “2nd decimal” updates only. This appears to eliminate most ‘trivial’ updates.

  • Seo Montreal · March 15, 2011 at 3:40 am

    It is a very bad idea to annoy people out with a loud ad. Another trend is the so called pop-under ad, that will appear in a new windows behind the page you are reading.

    It would not be so bad if the advertiser didn’t make these ads loud. By doing so, they force you to actually minimize your window and go close that obnoxious ad. The worst being when two windows with different messages run at the same time.

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  • Danni · December 24, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Thank you! I agree with you about adblock. I think putting up with ads to allow the publisher to earn is a fair deal – if the ads are within reason (I’m one of the few not opposed to targeted ads, as well. This at least gives me ads I’m moderately interested in).

    Noisy ads have been driving me insane. I’ve gritted my teeth for the most part. As you said, they sometimes have a close or mute button, but these seem to be disappearing at a rapid rate. Let’s hope these noisy ads go the way of the pop up.

    Thanks for helping!

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