Pop-up Ad Inventor apologizes. I say, “Thank you Ethan Zuckermam!”

Pop-up Ad Inventor apologizes. I say, “Thank you Ethan Zuckermam!”

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Ethan Zuckerman, who now runs the Center for Civic Media at MIT, says he wrote the code while working at Tripod.com in the mid-1990s.

But no he didn’t know what he would unleash.

In an essay for The Atlantic, he explains that he was just following orders.

“The business model that got us funded was advertising. The model that got us acquired was analyzing users’ personal homepages so we could better target ads to them,” he writes.

“Along the way, we ended up creating one of the most hated tools in the advertiser’s toolkit: the pop-up ad.”

The idea, Zuckerman says, was to be able to serve an ad without creating an implication that the publisher actually supported the company.

“It was a way to associate an ad with a user’s page without putting it directly on the page, which advertisers worried would imply an association between their brand and the page’s content. Specifically, we came up with it when a major car company freaked out that they’d bought a banner ad on a page that celebrated anal sex. I wrote the code to launch the window and run an ad in it. I’m sorry. Our intentions were good.”

The rest of the story is here:


In 2007 I adopted Paid Pop-up Ads and scaled it to the point that, as an affiliate marketer, I promoted over 2,000 products and services. It helped me become the #1 affiliate for many major brands and literally generated millions of dollars for my advertisers. It changed my life.

Over a billion impressions later (crossed that mark a couple of years ago), personally my opinion is that there’s no apology necessary.

The concept is sound and still in use today on mobile, although it has evolved to a slightly different variation called Interstitial Ads. There are even pop-up ads on mobile websites now.

The fact of the matter is that it was an ingenious concept that was sound and if not abused by those running the ads, is very effective.

The consumer seeing the ad can simply choose to participate in consuming the ad or clicking the close button.

We are presented interruption marketing to the tune of hundreds, maybe even thousands of ads in our daily lives.

We as advertisers are simply trying to interrupt the consumer and present whatever it is we have that might interest them and benefit them. The consumer has a choice whether they participate.

If he owes anyone an apology, so do we all that advertise.

No apology necessary Ethan Zuckerman.

I am indebted to you Ethan and thank you for your brilliance.


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