Suicide of the Web

Recently the leftie rag/website The Guardian asked a good question: Is Internet advertising technology ruining the Internet experience?

The answer to that is yes.

I’m all for free market and capitalism, whereas The Guardian isn’t, but there are limits to commercialism, or rather where it becomes counterproductive. Internet advertising at many sites has blown through that boundary.

I visit a number of conservative blog and websites. Several of them are shocking computer resource hogs. Sometimes I wonder, does anyone involved with those sites actually look at them or visit them from the outside (without their souped-up IT computer)?

I have an older Windows XP laptop that’s done me great service for years and a newer desktop machine (64-bit Windows 7 and 8 GB of RAM). I’ve taken to visiting many of these sites with Task Manager open – just to watch the “memory” numbers skyrocket – and then shut Flash down since it is the chief resource hog.

I’ll stick to generalizations mostly but I will note that the worst offenders, as a group, are the Townhall sites. They’ll grind the laptop to a halt in a minute. I also have to be wary of The Examiner, Washington Times, Pajama Media, Breitbart and Real Clear Politics. There are others that I visit that are better on some days than others, such as Power Line and National Review or visit less occasionally.

Pay attention webmasters!

It looks silly to have five (I’ve seen as many as seven) Flash windows open on a site and, often, all of them playing the same Annaliese Dayes, the egg lady, Food Planet, etc. videos, scenes from Uppercut or a Stylebrity fashion show video or whatever nom de video they’re running under that week.

Lately several sites have been running a syndicate of web videos that change their name about every two weeks but are the same celebrity programming/gossip and travel trash that isn’t particularly relevant to the conservative audience.

Annoyingly, shutting down those video windows, by clicking the shutdown X, sends you to that website. I know you think you tricked me but all you’ve really done is annoy me and deceived your client. I’ll have the pop-up window or tab shutdown in less than three seconds. Does that register a click? Is your client going to pay you for that nonimpression impression?

Here’s an idea. Since you stick cookies into my computer, don’t have me watch the same video more than say, three million times? You can keep count, I know you can.

Oh, and when I stop a video: Don’t then run an ad and then restart the video; don’t restart the video/ad when I scroll away or go to another tab. Simply don’t restart the video! What’s the point of running a video/ad that I’m not watching? To merely consume bandwidth or are you just jacking up “views” that aren’t actually views? Naughty-naughty.

Tip to you web designers out there — never have more than three Flash windows operating on a page. Not everyone has a bleeding edge, 8 GB RAM machine. Five is too many and seven is insane. Three is actually too many but there are compromises.

Then there are times of mysterious resource consumption. Hot Air is a repeat offender here. I have had every video window shut down – and I mean killed, not paused, yet I still can watch Flash in Task Manager spin upward past 500 MB in less than 30 seconds and over 1 GB if I walk away to get something to drink. I don’t see what’s running or using those resources.

Somebody at Hot Air needs to take a serious look at their website ad policy and stop worrying about their commissions.

Note that Liverail, AdapTV, Doubleclick, AdChoices, moatads, Scorecard Research, ping.chartbeat, any of the google.dots and amazon.dots, et al, are the spawn of Satan. These little ad purveyors, unsolicited content installers and verification monitors are in a desperate war with each other to fill slots and check that things are where they are or are not. It’s often a game of digital musical chairs – heavily-laden poorly-written code modules conflict with each other, possible purposely-written sabotage algorithms and the constant presence of constipated servers combine so that we are treated to Three Stooges-style doorway obstructions watching something hang on loading and everything else, including the content that you wanted, piling up behind it, all battling each other for a place on the page (or redirecting you to somewhere else).

Does anyone really click on a Photoshopped picture of an alligator swallowing a koala declaring that “One weird trick” can make you cancer-free and cut your car insurance by 90%? Somebody must because these companies stay in business. My God, people are dumb. (They can’t all be Democrats!)

Newsmax. Don’t even get me started on the Newsmax boxes appearing on sites – often 100% medical and financial snake oil. What happened?

Taboola and other “Sponsored Links” crapola are an annoyance but don’t seem to be resource-intensive. I’m surprised that conservative purveyors of their sites stomach the low-info voter content they peddle (picture of Kim Kardashian and text saying ‘Eight beauties with IQs over 200!’) but it’s likely that’s part of the blog package. I just saw one on Power Line with a black & white picture, clearly from the 1960s of a bikinied cutie on a bike. The tag – “WWII Photos From The Front Line.” The other three pictures in this “Popular Articles and Offers” all featured chesty women in exposing tops and were entitled: “Finding a bikini top that fits them properly is a chore for these 32 girls;” “These 28 photos of women bending seductively are straight-up attention-getters;” and “These Girls Wish These Embarrassing Photos Never Saw The Light Of Day.” This was at Power Line, I remind you. (BTW, I have nothing against these gals but at Power Line?)

Pop-ups (and the rarer pop-unders) — another of the Dark One’s devices. These are inevitably peddling crap services when not hawking malware. Lately I’ve seen the appearance of pop-throughs.

Another annoying ad tactic is ads that explode when you accidentally get near them – kind of like the alien. Sometimes they appear in the middle of the text and sometimes they hang around the edge and if your mouse gets too close they spring forth – obscuring what you were looking at or, if descending from a banner ad, push everything downward. It then snaps back when the ad is done and you are forced to search for where you were in the article.

Then there are ads at ad-heavy sites that go to war with each other. I got a good chuckle the other day when a site’s craptastic pop-up POS ad (Upgrade to eFax!) kept smothering it’s autolaunch freight rail ads in side boxes. Yeah, nobody at home at this very high-profile website. Unfortunately, ad wars on websites are rarely that good (like Iran-Iraq war good) and usually more troublesome, when not actually making the site impossible to navigate – if not actually continually crashing it.

Highlighted words – I’ve never understood this technique. I understand the (relatively sound) theory but the practice is reliably incompetent (if not completely idiotic). You see the phrase “river bank” with “bank” highlighted and if you hover over it (foolishly thinking it might be an infolink leading to another article about the river) a little popup shows up pitching a “5.8% mortgage rate from Columbia BANK” or something about a checking account, car loan or a credit card. Again, do any of the people involved with these websites actually look at their website? Does anyone peddling the link service look at how it performs? Does any client paying for this service look at its implementation? It’s a rip-off!

Some sites accidentally or on-purpose won’t let you leave them easily. Hot Air is a notorious jailer, often crashing Pale Moon (which I use in defiance to Mozilla/Firefox and IE) if I merely click on another link so I use the open-as-tab or new tab options to navigate away from the site. I’m not sure if it’s accidental or purpose-built sabotage code. Whatever, it builds anger.

As noted above, I keep Task Manager open and often purposely shut down the Flash player. That usually works and rarely does it affect the content you are there to see – unless it’s an awesome Remy or Andrew Klavan video.

I have to note that marketing minions aren’t stupid and will occasionally package a bomb in their Flash package that crashes your browser if you shut down Flash. I’ve had this happen mostly at Real Clear Politics but it has happened elsewhere. The craven marketers will do anything to pump their numbers up and they really don’t care about shoving at you a video that you won’t watch and then counting that when they bill the client. It’s the negative side of a great system called “programmatic” advertising.

Modern ad technology is supposed to be smart yet the programmatic buyers are being duped. Just because a site is political doesn’t mean that running PSAs for gays (I thought it was a spoof ad the first time or two I saw it) or campaign ads for a Minnesota libtard on a conservative website are a good idea.

So much of web advertising is designed into trying to trick you into watching or clicking on something. Why? Seriously, take a sober look at your ad policy. If the product or service is of interest we shouldn’t have to be tricked into clicking on it.

Stop making your sites actually painful to visit.

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