Super-Intrusive Video Ads

By Deane Barker on October 17, 2010

More and more, I’m seeing what I call “super-intrusive” video ads.  These are video ads which overlay the page you want to read, dim the background, and which you can’t get rid of.

Whenever one of these pop-up, I instinctively go looking for the “X” or the “Skip this ad” link.  More and more often, however, I’m not finding it.  I would say 10% of the time now, if I want to see the underlying page, I have to sit and watch the video.  (Though, the sound is muted on my machine all the time, so it’s like watching a silent film.)

I’m curious if anyone is seeing these things more often as well?

I think we’re creeping toward getting the Web to look more and more like television, where there are “commercial breaks” and you pretty much have to sit through those, unless you have it recorded in a DVR or something.

How do I feel about it?  I guess I don’t know. On the one hand, they’re annoying and pointless.  Without sound, what is really the value?  And no ad can force me to turn my sound up.

But, at the same time, I really enjoy the New York Times (just an example – I don’t know if they’re using them), and I don’t pay for it.  I’ve been reading articles on the Times for a decade, both on the Web and on my phone.  But I have never brought a copy of the Times on paper, and I have never paid for a subscription.

I also acknowledge that content isn’t free, and if I don’t like the ads on the Times Web site, I can simply decide not to go there.

Three years ago, I said this:

Like it or not, advertising is the currency of media. Unless you want to pay for everything you watch, read, or hear, advertising is going to have to be somewhere.

Risking a really bad analogy, it’s like a terrorist movement, — if you successfully block its traditional methods, it will just come out in more subversive ways. It’s up to us which method we let stick — but one of them will have to stick, trust me.

It’s still valid, today.  With the newspaper business the way it is, they have a right to try and make money, and I always try to remember that before I get frustrated.

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  1. I haven’t seen those adds. But I browse with Firefox NoScript, AdBlock Plus addons and CS Lite set to deny all all cookies.

    I only whitelist sites I value and use. And if the site is friendly and the advertising they’re using is subtle enough, I even disable AdBlock.

    My ‘drive-by’ page views are therefor completely ad and crap free and the moment a site I have whitelisted would resort to something as obnoxious as ‘super intrusive video ads’ its whitelisting is revoked and if I’m offended enough, I won’t come back there either.

    I am probably not the garden variety internet user.

  2. I don’t think it’s going to be long until we see some retaliation against ad blockers. I could see some ad that tries to load, and does a callback to the site once it does. No callback = the page doesn’t function in some way.

    Essentially, I promise you that media outlets are going to start fighting back against ad blockers, and figuring out how to prevent content from being displayed ad free. I’m frankly surprised it hasn’t started already.

  3. You’re cheating yourself if you don’t buy the Sunday Times hard copy and have a leisurely breakfast while exploring it at least once in life. Excellent tactile reading experience.

    The WSJ is innovating the most in revenue models for content online among the big publishers from what I see. Not all of the ideas will work but they are trying a lot, good to keep an eye on.

  4. It’s easy enough: if an ad is too intrusive, annoying, distracting, etc., don’t patronise the advertiser.

  5. I use an adblocker as much as possible too (Firefox or Safari 5, which finally supports extensions), but more to avoid the obnoxious use of Flash ads (including video) which wreaks havoc with my 6 year old PowerBook. Yes, I need to upgrade, but will continue using the adblockers after I do.

    Deane is right though; if enough people start using adblockers the sites hosting ads will eventually start fighting back. The one thing we have on our side is that the vast majority of people viewing those sites and their ads aren’t likely to be savvy enough to know adblockers exist. We’re safe, for now.

  6. I’m always fairly amazed at people’s reaction to advertising on the Web. Some people get furious, as if they should be offended that someone dare market to them.

    I admit, a lot of advertising is annoying. But you control advertising by controlling where you surf. The content owners have an absolute right to make money. Additionally, they have an absolute right to restrict your ability to consume their content if they refuse to view the advertising. It’s their content, after all.

  7. I think internet is going the way of television and telephone, both of which I don’t like….

    TV: I pay for the cable to run into my house and be active. I pay again when I have to sit through commercials…

    PHONE: Pay for the wire running into my house…. pay again everytime a telemarketer calls… and no I do not have Call Display because I don’t believe I should pay for one nusince to get rid of another…

    INTERNET: Pay the ISP, pay in the form of more advertising.

    I can’t wait until TV over Internet becomes more main stream, then I can pay at least 3 or 4 times before I actually see something of value. Please don’t respond about how companies must make money to stay in business, I already realize this. But I don’t have any money left to give… I guess I’ll have to one day unplug all this crap and go back to living in cave.

    Anyone have an Atari they want to get rid of, this isn’t any ongoing costs is their?

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