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Unwanted Popups Boosting Web Traffic

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the stealing-eyeballs dept.

The Internet 118

Most of us have experienced popups used for advertising. Now, some adware companies and advertiser networks are using popups (mostly from programs that users did not want installed) to directly boost traffic numbers for their customer Web sites. Net rating and measurement companies try to detect and discount such inflated traffic numbers, with mixed success.

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Unwanted what-now? (4, Funny)

djh101010 (656795) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200290)

What are these "popups" of what you speak, please? /firefox

Re:Unwanted what-now? (2)

LiquidNitrogen (864075) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200324)

is there a way to do kill those slide in flash ads ??

Re:Unwanted what-now? (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200422)

You can use Flashblock to kill the flash itself. A lot of it, however, is done with Javascript. You can turn Javascript off and then whitelist it for those great many sites that depend on it (like Slashdot's new comments system.)

Re:Unwanted what-now? (1)

h2g2bob (948006) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200760)

Or use NoScript [mozilla.org] , which also blocks the flash if you set it in the options.

Re:Unwanted what-now? NoScript and AdBlock (5, Insightful)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 7 years ago | (#17201990)

I personally find both NoScript and AdBlock work well in Firefox. Now, I'm not against ads, but if they persist in being NOISY, MOVING, obnoxious ads I don't just kill them, I kill the entire subsite that launces them.

Want ads? Then stop popping up and stop full motion video with sound.

Re:Unwanted what-now? NoScript and AdBlock (1)

GIL_Dude (850471) | more than 7 years ago | (#17202468)

You hit the nail on the head, but I don't have mod points today. Bravo.

Re:Unwanted what-now? (2, Informative)

TheSeer2 (949925) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203862)

I'd use NoScript but it blocks local image loading without the option of re-enabling it.

Re:Unwanted what-now? (1)

Annymouse Cowherd (1037080) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200424)

Firefox+Adblock Plus.

Re:Unwanted what-now? (2, Informative)

Kiaser Zohsay (20134) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200492)

Adblock + Filterset.G r00lz.

Re:Unwanted what-now? (3, Informative)

arifirefox (1031488) | more than 7 years ago | (#17201496)

adblock+ doesn't need filterset.g
See http://adblockplus.org/ [adblockplus.org] and http://adblockplus.org/en/faq_project#filterset.g [adblockplus.org]

Re:Unwanted what-now? (1)

Ezzaral (1035922) | more than 7 years ago | (#17201770)

Does anyone have any experience with the other filter set lists? Personally, I don't mind updating/adding things to the filter myself, but there's no way my wife or my parents would mess with that. Any recommendations on a good hands-off subscription I could install for them?

Re:Unwanted what-now? (1)

noamsml (868075) | more than 7 years ago | (#17201986)

I've used EasyList for a long time, and it works great.

Re:Unwanted what-now? (1)

jadobbins (1028872) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200704)

"Firefox+Adblock Plus." +NoScript

Re:Unwanted what-now? (2, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200902)

lynx?

Re:Unwanted what-now? (1)

jadobbins (1028872) | more than 7 years ago | (#17201514)

NoScript [mozilla.org] "This whitelist based preemptive blocking approach prevents exploitation of security vulnerabilities (known and even unknown!) with no loss of functionality... Experts do agree: Firefox is really safer with NoScript ;-)"

Fixed in IE7 (1)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204184)

Internet Explorer 7 popup blocker works. If Flash and other add-ons bother you, you can click Tools -> Manage Add-ons -> Enable or Disable Add-ons.

Re:Unwanted what-now? (1)

Neil Hodges (960909) | more than 7 years ago | (#17201274)

Adblock Plus [adblockplus.org] will also block in-page ads.

RTFS (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17200364)

Read the summary again, it clearly says:

mostly from programs that users did not want installed

...meaning spyware, adware, viruses, trojans etc. It has nothing to do with your choice of browser.

Re:RTFS (5, Insightful)

djh101010 (656795) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200426)

...meaning spyware, adware, viruses, trojans etc. It has nothing to do with your choice of browser.

I disagree. On my work system (the only windows box I use), with IE, I get lots of popups, with firefox, I get very very few. So it certainly has _something_ to do with my choice of browser. It's all additive, of course: use a browser that has some decent popup blocking, _and_ don't install stupid shit on your pc, _or_ don't run the OS the stupid shit is made for. It all helps.

Re:RTFS (1)

Admiral Frosty (919523) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200812)

How do you get the spyware in the first place?

Re:RTFS (1)

Duggeek (1015705) | more than 7 years ago | (#17201254)

The latest trends for doing this are...

  • Clicking on pop-ups.
  • Clicking on anything that's flashing/rumbling with the message "you're computer is infected" [sic].
  • Surfing for pr0n.

This is by no means a complete list, just my "top three". Anyone else like to add to this?

Re:RTFS (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203450)

{Anyone else like to add to this?}

Sure. Yahooligans and their trojan-ridden "booting l33t w4rez".

Nimrods.

Re:RTFS (1)

TheGrinningFool (1014867) | more than 7 years ago | (#17201230)

Read the summary again, it clearly says:

mostly from programs that users did not want installed

...meaning spyware, adware, viruses, trojans etc. It has nothing to do with your choice of browser.
Um, what? I don't have spyware, adware, viruses -- and I attribute that largely to my choice of browsers. My lack of trojans, I attribute to my common sense.

Re:RTFS (1)

NadNad (550015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17201328)

It has a lot to do with the browser choice actually, in that it's IE which is precisely the program that users shouldn't want installed.

Re:Unwanted what-now? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17201340)

Um.. Not to be stupid, but I find that (on one site, at least) IE7 blocks pop-ups better than Firefox2. Not that FF is bad. I'm posting anonymously, so the site is this:
www.indianmagic.com [indianmagic.com]

Yes, I am ashamed, mama. Yes, rightfully so, mama.

Re:Unwanted what-now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17201698)

? I can't see any ads there. I'm using Camino with CamiTools installed.

Re:Unwanted what-now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17203140)

This is /. Anyone using firefox here, prolly already has noscript and adblock installed. No issue!

Re:Unwanted what-now? (1)

wizzat (964250) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203390)

Hrm, I'm not really seeing what you're looking at... I didn't get any popups or ads ? If it was supposed to overwhelm me with popups, it failed horribly. I don't have an IE to run, because I'm at home and run Linux here. I'd try it at work, but I do believe it would be universally considered stupid...

// End Fanboy

// Begin Seriousness

In all fairness though, you could probably make some pretty sweet heuristics to block popups in a call-home software each time someone got a popup. Especially if it closed within 10 seconds of loading. Then again, I've never browsed the source tree of Adblock+, and neither have I examined my firewall logs lately, so for all I know, that's exactly what they're doing.

At that rate, how many of you have browsed the source and have a decent idea of how Adblock+ works? How about NoScript? And have you browsed your firewall logs lately? To a point, Linux for the Average Linux User relies on security through obscurity as well. It's just a different kind of obscurity.

My New Year's Resolution? Learn more about Linux security. As sure as the sun shines, Linux is getting more popular. With that popularity is going to come more attacks.

Oh please, Firefox is not immune. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17201662)

Go to nascarnet.com, popups galore. Or try http://kgbt4.com/ [kgbt4.com]

It's the extensions, silly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17202322)

Adblock + NoScript = no popups

Re:Oh please, Firefox is not immune. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17202718)

proxomitron with grypens filterset

Re:Unwanted what-now? (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 7 years ago | (#17202294)

Just click on the dancing hoof for more wild bovine action.

Meme-based Fraud Detection (1)

broward (416376) | more than 7 years ago | (#17202302)

Using meme theory to create a strategy for detecting click fraud -

http://www.realmeme.com/click [realmeme.com]

I was modifying my original Meme Miner to improve its prediction success and it stumbled upon anomalies which point to click fraud.

Imagine my surprise!

Warning! (3, Funny)

Clever7Devil (985356) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200302)

Your stock values may be infected with SPYWARE!

This is a GoodThing (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200764)

This whole business will surely undergo mutual self destruction.

While paying for refered clicks props up some very useful services (Google, probably + various artful collections of 18+ girls), most organisations that advertise this way are not really adding value. The spyware companies are not adding value either, but are just feasting on greed.

I say let them all just get on with it and rip eachothers throats out.

As seen on CN (5, Interesting)

xENoLocO (773565) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200306)

CenterNetworks [centernetworks.com] reported this very early this morning...

Entrepreneur.com's traffic dropped by 5 million when they stopped their popunder campaign. Pretty sad...

Re:As seen on CN (1)

djh101010 (656795) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200454)

Entrepreneur.com's traffic dropped by 5 million when they stopped their popunder campaign. Pretty sad...

Well, it's not like anyone was reading their ads anyway. Traffic doesn't help anything, especially if you annoy me to deliver the object.

Re:As seen on CN (1)

Kabuthunk (972557) | more than 7 years ago | (#17201128)

Traffic itself does not doesn't help directly, but numbers do.

If a site is able to boast "5 million hits a day" or whatever, they sound important, even if it's more accurately "5 million hits a day, 4,999,985 hits generated by popup ads".

Re:As seen on CN (1)

Oddscurity (1035974) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203490)

and the other 15 by the site owners? ;)

Re:As seen on CN (1)

CCFreak2K (930973) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204970)

5 million what? People? Bytes? Ice cream cones?

A math teacher I had before called unlabeled numbers like that "naked numbers."

Use an OS that has a lot less of these problems... (2, Informative)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200352)

or take what you paid for. I use Linux myself, but feel free to get a Mac and experience less of these spyware just the same. It is really pointless to use Windows, or rather to use Windows as a non Windows expert and then complain about such.

Re:Use an OS that has a lot less of these problems (0, Troll)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200388)

But pray that not many users will follow your advice or you will get the attention of the spammers and the situation will be the same with your "perfectly secure OS". So enjoy your minority while you can.

Re:Use an OS that has a lot less of these problems (1)

djh101010 (656795) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200490)

But pray that not many users will follow your advice or you will get the attention of the spammers and the situation will be the same with your "perfectly secure OS". So enjoy your minority while you can.

In order to cause a security breech, they need motivation _and_ opportunity. And I didn't see him or anyone else say "perfectly secure OS". I can only conclude, therefore, that you're either ignorant, or a troll.

Re:Use an OS that has a lot less of these problems (2, Insightful)

Ajehals (947354) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200606)

But pray that not many users will follow your advice or you will get the attention of the spammers and the situation will be the same with your "perfectly secure OS". So enjoy your minority while you can.
This isn't an OS problem, sure its currently a Windows problem but it will happen to any OS where the user blindly installs software, and where that process is overly simple and in some cases automatic.

Of course saying that, I doubt very much that even if Linux had a user base as large as the one Microsoft currently enjoys that the problem would be of the same scale, primarily because as a Linux user, even as a totally novice user, you can get all of your software from direct from whoever provided the distribution you are using, and it becomes less likely that you would want to install some random screen saver or other application that you find on the web.

Moreover it is considerably harder if not impossible to have a browser install software without user intervention under Linux. Furthermore I have so far never seen, and would find it difficult to see how an application could be installed under Linux that is as persistent as it is under Windows.

So I guess what I am saying is that the argument that Linux would be as badly effected by Viruses, Spyware and Malware if it were as prevalent as windows is simply not true, as the two operating systems, from a user perspective are not very alike. Not to mention the fact that Linux IS more secure, not just because of its relative obscurity but also because of the security measures in place within the OS. None of which will protect the OS if the user really wants to hose his or her machine. It does make that hosing more diffucult, and considerably reduces if not eliminates the threats posed by automated attacks similar to those seen agains Windows machines.

Re:Use an OS that has a lot less of these problems (1)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200970)

Moreover it is considerably harder if not impossible to have a browser install software without user intervention under Linux. Furthermore I have so far never seen, and would find it difficult to see how an application could be installed under Linux that is as persistent as it is under Windows.
Never understimate the bad guys. Hell , people even break strong encryption methods, do you think they won't find a way to install spyware/virii into Uni* clones? If they only have enough motivation they could break the OS in pieces.

Re:Use an OS that has a lot less of these problems (5, Insightful)

Phisbut (761268) | more than 7 years ago | (#17201522)

because as a Linux user, even as a totally novice user, you can get all of your software from direct from whoever provided the distribution you are using, and it becomes less likely that you would want to install some random screen saver or other application that you find on the web.

If Jane Sixpack wants those bouncy smileys for her email, and the "official distribution channel" doesn't provide them, she will download them from a random website and install them, and if installing them requires the root password, then the root password it will get.

The typical Windows user knows not to open random email attachments and not to execute software downloaded from random websites, but the "need" for smileys and other flashy-flashies trumps any security education.

The problem is not the OS, it's the user. And I'd rather those users keep away from Linux.

Re:Use an OS that has a lot less of these problems (4, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200650)

But pray that not many users will follow your advice or you will get the attention of the spammers and the situation will be the same with your "perfectly secure OS". So enjoy your minority while you can.


Yes, there's a large assumption by a bunch of people that Linux (or Mac OS X or FreeBSD or NetBSD) is 'perfectly secure', and yes, I agree with you that they are dead flat wrong.

However, there's a large assumption by a bunch of people that if Linux were more popular, we'd see a lot more spyware, trojans, and viruses (oh my!) for Linux.

While this is a true in a relative way, it doesn't take much to be 'a lot more' for Linux. Even with just half a dozen, you'd have 'a lot more'.

However, it's important to note that no matter the popularity of Linux, there is no way it would ever have the depth or prervasiveness of malware problems present on the Windows platform. If anyone who actually knows anything about the operating system architecture and security of both the Linux and Windows platforms in depth wants to debate this point with me seriously, I welcome them. Assuming that spammers would have just as much luck with Linux or ther UNIXes as with Windows is just sheer lunacy.

Re:Use an OS that has a lot less of these problems (1)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 7 years ago | (#17202374)

I don’t know everything about either operating system, but I’m running both of them. Everybody on the Windows side (including me) is running without Administrator access. Nobody can install software. No program can access the Internet without setting the firewall to allow that executable to have network access first. That can’t be done without Administrator access. Any program that made a change to the registry could only affect that particular user and whatever it would do would not include transmitting data over the Internet. Accessing e-mail addresses can’t happen without explicit permission from the user. Modifying installed software isn’t allowed at all. Modifying the system files is not allowed. So what pervasiveness is this?

Re:Use an OS that has a lot less of these problems (2, Insightful)

micpp (818596) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203190)

The fact that you probably had to set all of that up specifically rather than it coming as standard is probably significant.

Re:Use an OS that has a lot less of these problems (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200746)

Who said anything about perfectly secure?

Re:Use an OS that has a lot less of these problems (1)

Zaphod2016 (971897) | more than 7 years ago | (#17205302)

Who said anything about perfectly secure?

Someone who misunderstands computers, and the wondeful dance known as the "developer-hacker-shuffle". Break the box, fix the box, break the box, fix the box...

And the beat goes on... (yadda dadda dee, yadda dadda doo)

Re:Use an OS that has a lot less of these problems (4, Interesting)

Clever7Devil (985356) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200448)

I myself am a Linux user. When I'm talking to someone about technology, in person, I inevitably shift the conversation towards F/OSS. But, am I the only geek getting just a little bit tired of reading these "you wouldn't have these problems if you just used Linux" posts? This is Slashdot. We know. I promise.

Re:Use an OS that has a lot less of these problems (1)

Zaphod2016 (971897) | more than 7 years ago | (#17205226)

As a fellow F/OSS enthusiast, I am also bored of the "you wouldn't have these problems if you just used Linux" posts around here.

To the Linux fanbois responsible: Why not point to a specific chunk of code, or whichever branch is responsible for whatever wonderful feature you are pointing out today? After all, isn't that what F/OSS is all about? I may not use Linux, but I do write code, and I'm always on the lookout for clever hacks and good security (it's a zen thing).

It's a Browser problem, not an OS problem (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200654)

It's possible to get spyware infesting your OS that does this, but most of the popups have been browser weaknesses/features, not OS weaknesses. Linux doesn't encourage you to use IE the way Windows does, and Windows doesn't go out of its way to get you to use Konqueror, and the kind of people who click "Yes" on any dialog box offering to upgrade their browser are more likely to be Windows users, so there's a bit of correlation, but it's mainly a browser problem.


I'm using an older Mozilla version and haven't gotten around to upgrading to Firefox 2 yet, and my work PC doesn't let me have the administrative privileges to add to the hosts file, so I occasionally see popups from Vonage or yieldmanager or a couple of Indian sites; I think they're probably using Javascript tricks to pop themselves up.

Re:It's a Browser problem, not an OS problem (2, Interesting)

Spliffster (755587) | more than 7 years ago | (#17205164)

<script type=...>
var atags = document.getElementsByName("a");
for(current=atags.item(0); current; current=current.nextSibling)
current.onclick = open_nasty_popup();
function open_nasty_popup() {...}
</scrip>

the above code will bypass most (if not any) popup blocker. On every a tag (link) in the page, an onclick handler is added to the link. popup blocker block popups which are opened without user interaction. because a click is a user interaction, popup blocker won't normally stop such windows from opening (and that's good so, because many web applications use oclick to open additional windows).

This is what I have observed since FF shipped. There might be nastier ways in the meanwhile.

Cheers,
-S

Re:Use an OS that has a lot less of these problems (1)

TheGrinningFool (1014867) | more than 7 years ago | (#17201380)

or take what you paid for. I use Linux myself, but feel free to get a Mac and experience less of these spyware just the same. It is really pointless to use Windows, or rather to use Windows as a non Windows expert and then complain about such.

Or use the OS that works for your needs without making rash generalizations that make you sound like a pompous ass+. I use Windows on my desktops (I gave up on Ubuntu for my laptop, too many issues) and Linux on my four home servers. I use cygwin and/or remote sessions for the linux tools. And it's funny - I have never had a virus*, I have never had spyware, I have never been hacked. It's this amazing thing called "common sense"; it just so happens that Windows requires more of it than the other options do.**

+ I reserve the right to sound like a pompous ass myself.
*never had a virus that I did not deliberately install in a sandbox
** Is that last line a perfect setup for someone to quote and get a +5 funny, or what?

Re:Use an OS that has a lot less of these problems (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 7 years ago | (#17201464)

So are you implying that having pop ups invading ones OS is having their needs met? If not, then I don't see how you disagree as the tone of your post seems to imply. I also made the limitation of being a _non_ Windows expert. If things work that well for you in Windows, then you sir are a Windows expert. Again, I don't see how you contradict my points.

Re:Use an OS that has a lot less of these problems (1)

TheGrinningFool (1014867) | more than 7 years ago | (#17202542)

So are you implying that having pop ups invading ones OS is having their needs met? If not, then I don't see how you disagree as the tone of your post seems to imply. I also made the limitation of being a _non_ Windows expert. If things work that well for you in Windows, then you sir are a Windows expert. Again, I don't see how you contradict my points.
My wife runs Windows; the only advise she got from me was never, ever run IE -- also no viruses, popups,etc. She is far from an expert. But to your question -- how can I answer a point that I don't consider a valid point? I believe that it /is/ possible to run Windows as a non-expert; but no amount of arguing I do will convince you of that. I further believe that blanket statements of any kind (whether it be over choice of OS or about your favorite color) tend to make the utterer look just a bit silly.

Re:Use an OS that has a lot less of these problems (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 7 years ago | (#17202704)

Fair enough. However, every now and then I heard of perfect experiences, while very regularly i see very poor experiences. So base my judgements based on the information I see regularly. I have Windows installed, and it seems to be free of viri and other malaware. However, I see the opposite very very often.

Re:Use an OS that has a lot less of these problems (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 7 years ago | (#17201590)

Also, lets be fair, you're assuming, as am I, that you've never been hacked.

Re:Use an OS that has a lot less of these problems (1)

TheGrinningFool (1014867) | more than 7 years ago | (#17202554)

Also, lets be fair, you're assuming, as am I, that you've never been hacked.

Not entirely -- I never make assumptions like that. I do periodically monitor network traffic; and regularly monitor my windows systems specifically for anything untoward. To do that I check network usage, CPU usage -- including 'holes' in CPU usage where it reports as idle, but performance makes it obvious that something is running.

So while I suppose it's possible that I've been hacked (through a hardware firewall), I would classify the likelihood as 'extremely low'.

Re:Use an OS that has a lot less of these problems (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 7 years ago | (#17202738)

Fair enough.

What browser does one have to use to get popups? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17200398)

I can't remember when I saw a popup ad last in my Firefox under Linux. How does one get to see them? Just curious.

They had it coming (3, Insightful)

dtfinch (661405) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200404)

There's no honor amongst thieves. I just wish something more could be done to screw these companies that fund spammers and malware advertisers, like law enforcement doing its job or something. Is paying someone to do something illegal also illegal? For example, it's illegal to hire a hitman.

Re:They had it coming (1)

Goalie_Ca (584234) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200682)

I've always wanted to know which assholes become developers for these companies. Somewhere out there some talented hackers are getting paid to screw up peoples systems. Very unethical!

Re:They had it coming (1)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200794)

I've always wanted to know which assholes become developers for these companies. Somewhere out there some talented hackers are getting paid to screw up peoples systems. Very unethical!
I've been offered jobs that I thought were unethical (some like what we are talking about.) I wasn't interested.

Re:They had it coming (2, Insightful)

DittoBox (978894) | more than 7 years ago | (#17201034)

Analyze any spyware, adware, hijackware, malware, virii etc. for any length of time, and you'll quickly realize that there is very, very little talent in the pool of "developers" that create this crap.

Re:They had it coming (1)

Daemonstar (84116) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200728)

Is paying someone to do something illegal also illegal?
Yes. The person soliciting the illegal activity is charged depending on what the solicited illegal activity was. In Texas this could be:

  • 15.02. CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY
  • 15.03. CRIMINAL SOLICITATION
  • 15.031. CRIMINAL SOLICITATION OF A MINOR
i.e.: Paying someone to kill a person would be something like "Criminal Solicitation to commit Murder".

The punishment is usually one degree lower than the solicited activity.

Re:They had it coming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17200808)

Is paying someone to do something illegal also illegal? For example, it's illegal to hire a hitman.
That probably depends. Over here, paying someone to commit a felony is a felony, and usually carries the same punishment. For anything else that is illegal, there's generally no punishment for the buyer. If those things were different, I'd long since have started a fund to hire mobs to burn spammers at the stake.

Someone should measure the response rate... (1)

Kazoo the Clown (644526) | more than 7 years ago | (#17202124)

Someone ought to do a media expose' and actually hire a spamming company to send out a campaign, and then measure what kind of response they actually get. Given the look of many of the campaigns out there (from looking at the subject lines captured by my spam filter), I can't imagine what kind of complete idiot would fall for any of them. Quite possibly, it's not those getting spammed who are being taken, but the people who contracting a spammer for a spamvertising campaign that are. If it turns out that in 1G spam mails the return rate is only 3 morons who actually clicked-through the darn things, and that information became public, the value of such a campaign might just drop considerably and the financial incentive would go away...

MOD UP (1)

Zaphod2016 (971897) | more than 7 years ago | (#17205326)

This is a good idea. Worst case, if it turns out that the click-through rates are high enough to justify the cost to the advertiser, it will still provide a good "refresher course" to all of the 14 and 84 year olds who are still learning the ins-and-outs of email.

Pop-up blocker? (4, Interesting)

HAL9000_mirror (1029222) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200530)

What happens when one uses pop-blocker which kills the pop-up window? Is that a hit? I assume the pop-blocker kills the window before a connection is established to the target server?
--Ram
"So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak." --Sun Tzu, in The Art of War.

Re:Pop-up blocker? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17200610)

Don't assume anything!

Re:Pop-up blocker? (1)

Duggeek (1015705) | more than 7 years ago | (#17201154)

...least of all, an identity.

Re:Pop-up blocker? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17202256)

Pop-up scripts create a new pageviewer (new window or new tab) supplied with a target URL.

Chronologically speaking:
  1. the pop-up window is created,
  2. that new window requests data from the target URL
  3. and finally displays the data.
If you're ignoring/blocking scripts, the code to create a new window is not executed meaning that we never get to step #2.

Re:Pop-up blocker? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203164)

I don't know about pop-ups in particular, but Adblock has (or at least had) a setting where you could choose either to download the ads and not display them, or not download them at all.

Re:Pop-up blocker? (1)

fabioaquotte (902367) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203404)

The thing is, pop-up blockers are only effective against the ones originating from websites you visit with your browser. In the case of malware creating them, which seems to be what the article is talking about, they are useless (since your browser has no control over other applications creating pop-ups).

Why display these adds at all? (5, Insightful)

Buttonius (31377) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200726)

Wouldn't it be much smarter if these adware companies let their malware fetch the popup file (pretending to be any popular web browser) and not display it to the user? Most users would never notice the additional network traffic and, not having seen a sudden popup, would have little incentive to go hunting for the spyware.

Re:Why display these adds at all? (3, Insightful)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200820)

Having a high purchase : hits ratio is just as important as having a lot of hits. If the users never see the pop ups, they are guaranteed never to purchase your products from them...

Re:Why display these adds at all? (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204168)

Probably yes, but at some point one crosses over from the gray area into the darkside of outright advertising fraud and it would difficult to justify charging clients for advertising impressions, popups in this case, while not showing anything tangible to the target audience.

Popups? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17200768)

You don't need popups to do this, just a hidden iframe. This is the way the web has worked for over a decade. WTF?

tu36irl (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17200940)

I have said it before! (3, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#17200996)

The current model for advertising costs is just wrong! The pricing structure needs to be one that doesn't inspire fraudulent activity. Print, radio and television advertisers cite circulation and ratings numbers. Web advertisers should cite some other "popularity" measure, but not necessarily one that inspires fraud. Google, for example, might be one such measure, but really, it should never be so precise as in number of hits. I think it should be something based essentially on the site's demographic and estimated audience as determined by some neutral third party. It'd be like the Neilson ratings in its own way. And let these third parties come up with their own trustworthy measurements and may the market gravitate to the best of those ratings companies.

In this way, we would lose a great deal of fraud on the web simply because there will be lost incentive to have it.

Re:I have said it before! (2, Informative)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 7 years ago | (#17201260)

Bingo!

There are three kinds of lies: Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics.

Measure anything human activity with statistics and it can be fudged and defrauded.

In this case, I think the more accurate measure would not be "web hits" but rather a measure of average time visiting said site. A pop-up ad is visted perhaps 1.2 seconds, while a legitimate site much longer, statistically speaking. Average clicks once on a site is another possible measure. Refering site is another item that can be used to uncover fraud.

I think a broader measure of other statistical information would be much more revealing than simple clickthroughs and impressions.

Re:I have said it before! (1)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17202454)

There are a couple of issues, but I think paying for results will be the future of advertising. You'll pay for actual sales, or for advertising revenue actually generated.

One way this could work would be for the advertiser to proxy the session. It could determine a sale was made and arrange appropriate payment. You don't want to have to trust the seller, or the advertiser.

biOznatch (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17201168)

task.G Research practical purposes

I'm surprised... (2, Informative)

j-turkey (187775) | more than 7 years ago | (#17201256)

I'm surprised that it took this long for advertisers to figure out that popunders/popups increase traffic. Back around 2000 when I was working for dot-coms, the ad-revenue based groups lived and died by traffic ratings (unique page impressions, etc) like Jupiter Media Metrics. When popunders started to reach critical mass, x10.com was pushed from nowhere into the top 5 -- overnight. I'm sure it cost them a pretty penny, but the result was evident over 6 years ago.

Let's hope that advertisers take another 6 years to catch onto the next big thing.

One Way to Screw Spamers (2, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#17201298)

One way to screw spammers would be for everyone to click on their links, then not buy anything. Spammers are paid by click-through counts. If companies start getting a lot of false click-throughs that they have to pay for, they'll soon either lower what they pay, or use other methods of bringing traffic to their sites. Lowered pay hurts the spammers when everyone then stops clicking through. The general concept is that if you can't ignore them, then bury them instead.

Re:One Way to Screw Spamers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17202048)

a program for click-through for popups would be fantastic. open IE when you sleep and and let the program run until you want to use your computer again

Re:One Way to Screw Spamers (0)

mccrew (62494) | more than 7 years ago | (#17202640)

Spammers are paid by click-through counts.
Citation, please?

Re:One Way to Screw Spamers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17203480)

Alas, I can't click on the ads, because I forgot how to make them display. Damn, I don't even know if it's privoxy or some konqueror feature, or what.

I'd like to help with hurting them, but I guess I don't care enough to track down how to enable the ads.

AJAX (1)

mattwarden (699984) | more than 7 years ago | (#17201642)

Would you 2.0 like to view my traffic statistics 2.0? I make 10 AJAX requests 2.0 per second when a visitor 2.0 is viewing a page on my site 2.0. It is perfectly legitimate 2.0, I assure you.

Similar to ballot stuffing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17201876)

I think I've seen some of these as pop-behind and self-destruct (self-close) ads. You can see it pop-behind your main browser and by the time you go look to who it is to close them they are gone. I haven't got a good handle of which sites are doing them since I have pop-up blocker, no-script, ad-blocker but some have been able to by-pass these and pop-behind. Much like spam as the blockers are getting better the website authors are getting better to getting around them. But like any one who competes without rules you can do anything to make anything work your way. In the case of the websites they just stuff your browser with a bunch of pop-* and they get there hundred or more hits to there website even though you have went to there home page website once.

Someone at Slashdot is reading my mind! (5, Interesting)

teebob21 (947095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17202132)

How ironic that this story appeared today.

Just last night, I was considering submitting a Ask Slashdot question on how other users deal with otherwise trustworthy sites that serve obtrusive popup/under ads. For example Merriam Webster's dictionary pages http://www.m-w.com/ [m-w.com] which I was directed to following a link in a ./ post. But I figured....popups? So 2001. Why bother the friendly folks with such a ancient topic?

For those thinking I don't know how to manage my unwanted ad exposure, keep in mind I am running Firefox 2.0 with Pop-up blocking; typically a solid solution. The MW website, however, delivered 2 ads that broke past FF's utility. It left me with my old tactic: A good-old-fashioned "You just lost a customer" email. I have a text template to make the process quicker, so here's last nights email to the House of Definitions:

To Whom it may concern:

Please be advised that I will no longer be visiting your website nor advising it to my children or students. I visited your website today and was confronted with not one, but 2 popup ads on the definitions result page. One led me directly to http://www.vonage.com/startsavingnow/ [vonage.com] and the other was a kmart ad served by tribalfusion. Bear in mind that I use the Mozilla Firefox browser with Popup blocking active, and your website contains malicious code that defeats the pop-up window feature.

The computer I use and the programs that I run belong to me, not to you. I have no issues with your Privacy Policy, and your cookie policy. I simply request that you communicate with your third-party providers to prevent them from displaying code on your website that hijacks your customer's browser in this manner. While you are not responsible for the advertising content in said ads, you are reponsible for the user experience when visiting your site. At the present, it is not an enjoyable experience for someone who does not wish to be deluged in advertising. In addition, by continuing to host code which overrides a core browser component makes your site a possible vector for virus/malware transmission, should either your server or the servers of one of your advertisers ever be compromised.

I realize that advertising income supports your website, and more importantly your bottom line. The days when your core business was selling hardback dictionaries are over, and business models change.

However, upon the visit to your page, I am confronted with 8 total ads; the two popup/popunder ads mentioned previously, one for Hostgator, 2 Google ads for a Scooby-Doo DVD, one large graphical ad for Qwest, and two tolerable text links to your affiliate partners. All I wanted was a definition...not a great deal on DSL service!

As before, I will no longer be visiting or recommending your website or your products. There are other sources for the information you provide. In order for me to return, simple changes in your advertising strategy are requested, including the removal of popup/popunder advertising.

Sincerely,
Terry Hall

We shall see what kind of response I get. The message has worked in the past with some smaller sites, including my local bank's website. Why they needed pop-ups for revenue, I'll never know.

Re:Someone at Slashdot is reading my mind! (1)

dreamlax (981973) | more than 7 years ago | (#17202342)

Big deal. They have a big bowl of rice and you were just one grain. What they have left is still a bowl of rice.

Online advertising is out of control! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17202168)

I just went to the Vatican website, and I got a Pope-up!!!

Re:Online advertising is out of control! (1)

DoorFrame (22108) | more than 7 years ago | (#17202560)

I feel REALLY stupid for having laughed at that.

How is this news? (1)

robinvanleeuwen (1009809) | more than 7 years ago | (#17202972)

Am i missing something ? Or isn't this news?

Popups (1)

adbloggers (996663) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203324)

I really like the programs that block these popups because they can get out of hand. Most toolbars have this as an option.

http://www.mobile-content-news.info/ [mobile-content-news.info]
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