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Taking back control from the internet ad-masters

Pop-up ads are often a cross to bear for many web users, but as Karen Aria Lin explains, there are tricks out there to make the most out of repeat offenders

Published 15/08/2015

Modern dilemma: clicking on a pop-up ad can often make the problem worse
Modern dilemma: clicking on a pop-up ad can often make the problem worse

I'm no stranger to blocking things online. Recently, my roommate showed me a handy Chrome extension called "Kill News Feed" for Facebook, which I installed. Now the extension loads a message that says "don't get distracted by Facebook!" instead of endless news feeds. The result is that I've minimised my activity on Facebook, using it only to message friends, invite others to events, or send photos.

It's a mixed bag when it comes to advertising. Digital marketing is effective when done smartly. But if ads are intrusive in the wrong way, people reject them before they have a chance to read it.

Hopefully, the obnoxious, seizure-inducing pop-up ads will give way in favour of visually appealing, well-designed ads. The world of marketing depends on it. Here is how I generally approach different forms of advertising online.

1. Adblock - to use or not to use?

I'm often conflicted when it comes to using AdBlock, the browser extension that prevents advertisements from showing up on a webpage. For online newspapers and blogs that don't generate revenue from print, ads are an important source of revenue. On the other hand, ads are annoying. Fortunately, I can tell AdBlock "Don't run on this page".

2. Email ads

Email ads go straight to my promotions tab in my Gmail account, and I occasionally give them a cursory scroll. Many ads are from sites I rarely visit, but don't mind receiving emails from.

3. Banner ads

I hardly give a glance to the big, bold pictures that line the top and sides of websites. Some of them look like they were designed in the previous century, which is just lazy. Others are eye-catching or animated, but I don't feel the need to click on them.

If they show up often, though, I might remember the name of the company.

4. Video ads

The more desperately I want to watch a YouTube video, the more annoying the advertisement that plays before my video seems to be. The longer ones allow me to click 'skip ad' after a couple of seconds. The shorter ones force me to sit through the whole thing before allowing me to watch my real video.

5. Phone ads

The 'close' button on mobile phone ads are usually too tiny for my massive thumb. Half the time, I accidentally click the ad itself when trying to close it.

The most effective way to get me to watch ads is to give me rewards. My favourite phone game offers two bonus tokens for every video game advertisement I watch.

Lo and behold, I actually sit through them to earn my tokens at the end.

Belfast Telegraph

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