How To Change The Web

While reading the weekly Community MX newsletter
this morning, I came across a Wired article entitled New
Browsers, Same Unwanted Ads
. The article predicts that more virus
writers will begin targeting Firefox as it continues to gain in popularity, but
it touches on something else I actually found much more interesting: the evolution
of intrusive advertising. As more and more people find ways to block intrusive
advertising, advertisers continue to find more and more ways to force people to
view clients’ ads:

One advertiser site, [sorry, no free advertising here], states on its homepage
that "due
to the proliferation of pop-up blockers, we have altered our popup code so
that if a blocker is detected, a layer ad will be delivered." Other firms,
Wilson said, are using a technique in which advertisements load in the background
when a person is viewing a web page, then appear immediately when he or she
attempts to visit another URL. Others will force another pop-up on the user
if the first is closed "too
quickly."

It occurred to me while I was reading the article that the game we play with publishers
and advertisers is actually pretty ridiculous. All of us have the power to end
intrusive advertising without the use of popup blockers, or any other kind of plugin
or utility. It’s called choice. If you don’t like the kinds of ads certain sites
use to support themselves, your best defense is to stop visiting those site. Instead,
patronize sites that have revenue models that you can live with. I can’t think
of any sites out there that rely on intrusive advertising that have content I
can’t find elsewhere. Send those sites a message by denying them your page views.
I’m not saying you should disable your popup blocker, but what I am saying is that
the best way to change the web is to actively participate in and support revenue
models that you believe in. There doesn’t always have to be an adversarial relationship
between publishers, advertisers, and readers, or between businesses and their customers,
for that matter. There are relationships out there that work well for everyone,
and that I believe will ultimately prove the most successful. Relationships, communities,
and conversations are changing business, but the most powerful agent of change
is, always has been, and always will be choice.