When bad ads happen to good websites

I’m certainly not one to criticize any site that has ads. There’s a cost to running a website, and the money for your time and bandwidth has to come from somewhere.

But there are a couple of websites, [MacDailyNews](http://www.macdailynews.com) (aka “If it mentions Apple or Steve Jobs at all we’ll put a positive spin on it and report it as news”) and [AppleInsider](http://www.appleinsider.com) that while they have decent content, they have the *most* annoying ads. These are Macintosh sites, catering to a live-by-Mac-only-or-die clientele yet they participate in the Tribal Fusion or Fastclick ad networks. These networks have gotten around the pop-up blockers in Firefox so every click brings up these annoying ads…the majority selling PC-only software! So obviously these sites really don’t care if their ads bring any value to their audience.

This morning I followed a link from [Digg](http://www.digg.com) that ended up MacDailyNews and not only did I get the stupid pop-up ad in Firefox, but it had sound! “Warning. your. computer. is. infected. with. something. I. forgot. what. it. said. before. I. clicked. the. box. away.” in some robotic voice.

Anyone who knows me knows that one of my pet peeves is a website that makes noise without asking me if it’s okay first. I’m either working in silence or I’m listening to something I want to listen to (such as a podcast). There is no time whatsoever that a site’s music or sound effect is welcome unless it is clear that I clicked a link where that sound would be expected (such as a “watch this clip” link or a link with the word “listen” in it). Ever. Nothing makes me close a site faster and vow never to return. To have an *ad* make noise is beyond offensive to me.

At first I thought MacDailyNews was just the kind of site that would sniff out whether the visitor was running on a PC or Mac and would only serve the ad if one was running on a PC. So I went to my Mac, and sure enough the pop-up came up from Firefox even though I have pop-ups blocked. The only browser that effectively suppressed the annoying window was Safari. I have to wonder if the MDN folks know that. I wouldn’t be surprised if they do. Although it begs the question: if the ad is not showing in Safari since most people run the browser with pop-ups blocked (with good reason) what’s the point of having the ad at all if the majority of your traffic is likely using Safari? I don’t get it.

Don’t ads through networks like Tribal Fusion and Fastclick pay only for conversions (people who actually purchase the product, as opposed to networks like AdSense which pay for clicks)? Unless the publisher is paid for how fast the person curses and closes the window, I can’t imagine where the value is. But that’s just me, and this is just my opinion.