back to article Those online ads driving you bonkers are virtually 'worthless for brands'

One dollar of online display advertising will buy you approximately $0.03 worth of actual ads seen by real people, according to Bob Hoffman, a partner in media consultancy Type A Group. Hoffman, who used to run the Hoffman/Lewis Advertising agency, is well known for his skepticism of online ads, a view that has found some …

  1. Stuart 22

    Get Rich Quick

    Well not rich but making a decent income as both a Adwords & Adsense. That was years ago when Google served ads based on the content of the page not on the profile of the punter.

    Which meant they could be crafted discreetly into the page with a symbiotic effect. Once they broke that it became an aberration and to have any effect it was flashy banners. Unsuprisingly our revenues dropped - but then Google had an ever growing number of websites to fling more ads so while the revenue per page was dropping, the number inflation kept their revenues growing.

    On placing ads we found we were being to be outbid by the majors who just buying the market. So now we are a post-ad company. But I did get a t-shirt!

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "The difficulty of assessing the value of advertising is a longstanding problem."

    It should be getting easier. If Mr Wannamaker were still with us he'd probably have the perspicacity to realise that ad-blockers were telling him something he wanted to know. He seems to have been an exception amongst advertisers, however.

    1. Paul Shirley

      Even when I whitelist pages or sites in the adblocker I rarely see add anyway, the various security and privacy blockers get in the way. However the adblocker detection notices do vanish. So they still can't even tell if adds are being blocked and stand no chance of measuring effectiveness.

  3. Terry 6 Silver badge


    I am out of my depth here. I just don't understand this.

    The ad flingers object to us using ad-blockers. But if we use ad-blockers we are presumably not going to be willing viewers of their stuff. In fact, if they prevent ad blocking we are likely to be down right hostile. So why do they think it sensible to persist in sending us nasty, invasive ads or using anti-ad blockers?

    I used to allow ads, when they were still civilised. Just as I sometimes sit through them when I watch ITV. I even used to click on some ads just to feed the content providers. But these days I sit behind half-a-dozen add-ons to hold back all the flashing, floating, video playing, intrusive, time-wasting and annoying ads that infest web pages.

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: Puzzled

      You ask why the ad-flingers persist. Tempting though it is to simply say "it's because they're morons", I think the truth is a little more nuanced.

      You say: "why do you persist in showing me adverts that annoy me?".

      They say: "Ah, but at a subliminal level you remember the adverts, and that will influence your purchasing decisions!"

      You say: "But if it's influencing me at all, it's doing so negatively"

      They say: "No no, the mind doesn't work like that, you remember Brand X, but you forget that you remember Brand X because it infuriated you with an obnoxious full-screen auto-playing video ad"

      You say: "Bollocks. I'm a human, not a goldfish. I remember - and have blacklisted - the pub where the staff were too busy chatting to bother to take my lunch order until it was after last orders anyway, and that was FIVE WHOLE YEARS AGO*, and I sure as hell do the same to brands online that get in my face and annoy me"

      They say: "Errr... whatever. Here! Have some adverts!!!11!!!"

      Short version: It's because they're morons.

      *(shout-out to the Carpenters Arms in Fulbrook, by the way... I bear grudges for a long time)

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Puzzled

        I remember - and have blacklisted - the pub where the staff were too busy chatting to bother to take my lunch order until it was after last orders anyway, and that was FIVE WHOLE YEARS AGO*

        +1. How much of a moron you have to be to fail to see that imprinting into potential customers subliminal feelings of annoyance is counterproductive... Even if we assume that the consumer is the proverbial Pavlov's dog, Pavlov (and his followers) tried negative stimulus experiments as well as positive - negative reinforcement proving fairly effective too.

      2. Captain DaFt

        Re: Puzzled

        "You ask why the ad-flingers persist."

        No. I don't. It's obvious.

        They get paid by companies trying to get their brand to the masses, and will promise those companies the Sun and Moon to get their ad dollars.

        Then they blast the ads at the public, who doesn't want them, for pennies on the dollars they take in.

        Public loses through degraded, dangerously malware filled "advertising".

        Companies lose. Both financially and reputationaly for using the ad-flingers.

        Ad-flingers rake it in from the real morons, the Companies that pay them.

        That's why they persist.

      3. Johan Bastiaansen

        Re: Puzzled

        You say that, but.

        They're morons who are making lots of money behaving like morons. So not so stupid after all.

        The real morons are the companies who give them their money to piss of their customers.

        Are these the same morons who explain to us that the reason the economy is in a slump because our wages are too expensive?

        Yes, but they only only do that because they think we're even bigger morons.

        How stupid do you have to be to think that we're morons?

        Pretty stupid indeed.

        You say that, but.

        These morons are also making lots of money.

        So who's the moron now?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Puzzled

          I think it's easy to summarise.

          Ad people have gone from people that had the job of simply telling me about a product/service so that I might buy it to manipulative shits that have no problem with ideas like pester power where they advertise to kids so that they pester us into buying. They see no ethical problem with using the way humans work against them, and often do that for sh*t that no person in their right mind would buy, even when dead drunk. They see no problem with using technical tricks that have opened the door to malvertising - which again meant that the technically competent switched it off.

          Or even shorter: if they kept it decent they would still have a market, but instead they rip off advertisers for ads that nobody wants to see and try to subvert our tech and steal our bandwidth to force us despite clear evidence that we. do. not. want. that. shit.

          It is easy to see that it can be done better, but the scum that we filter against can't be asked. There are few people who do not recall the beautiful and clever Guinness ads. The specsavers ads were funny and worth watching. The very fact that these come into mind when I think about ads I enjoyed and which made me recall the brand is evidence that it can be done without manipulation, without deep psycho babble which only half works, without tricks that are so far into unethical territory that the dividing line is not even visible anymore.

          But somehow the scumbags seem to have made the money, probably because they're so good in marketing that they conned the advertisers into believing that they would deliver and have so far rebuffed any demand for metrics that prove they do.

          And now this has caught up with them, IMHO not a moment too soon.

          I am quite willing to disable adblocking for websites that gather their own advertisers or put at least some measures in place that ensure privacy isn't violated and ads are just ads instead of packages of malware either serving some crooks or some advertisers (but I repeat myself). Otherwise sorry, but I'm not going to take the risk.

      4. Mark 85 Silver badge

        @David 132 Re: Puzzled

        They say: "Ah, but at a subliminal level you remember the adverts, and that will influence your purchasing decisions!"

        I think this is a holdover from when all we had were radios and TV's. People ignored the commercials as best they could and often didn't have remotes to mute the sound so they heard the brand mentioned repeatedly. There were some studies that showed that it was subliminal and when people went shopping they bought the brand because they remembered it.

        Now the morons are parroting it and believing that if the ads on the computer flash and scream at you, you'll do the same thing. Ad blockers, killing off Flash and even muting the sound makes their crap even more ineffectual and they fail to understand it.

      5. itzman

        Re: Puzzled

        I have observed two people buying products that are heavily advertised 'because they are better'

        I am afraid it works.

        In my case, I try never to buy anything that is heavily advertised.

        I sometimes wonder if i am in fact simply failing to remember stuff I have been bombarded with.

        I feel proud that no website I have ever built features adverts, or even cookies unless needed for transactions of some sort.

        1. Adam 52 Silver badge

          Re: Puzzled

          You buy branded products because the producer has invested in that brand. If there's a problem with the product then the brand reputation suffers. So that brand is less likely to have problems and more likely to want to resolve them when they do happen.

          So yes, as a gross generalisation, advertised products are more likely to work better.

          1. Dabooka Silver badge

            Re: Puzzled


            That's the theory at least, but it's not the reality.

            Take VW for example (no, not the emissions scandal). Remember the old tagline 'If only everything was as reliable as a Golf'? Well that's been FAR from reality for years now, but the perception is still there that somehow they're robust and reliable. And when they do bork, VW don't want to know and leave the consumer high and dry.

            Other car companies with a perceived high quality are just as guilty, and no I'm not a bitter and twisted ex employee / owner either, I just happen to be using VW as a vehicle to highlight the point.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Puzzled

              Take VW for example (no, not the emissions scandal). Remember the old tagline 'If only everything was as reliable as a Golf'? Well that's been FAR from reality for years now, but the perception is still there that somehow they're robust and reliable. And when they do bork, VW don't want to know and leave the consumer high and dry.

              That depends a bit on the dealer. Where I live, the one nearest is a pure bred ripoff merchant, but the one 10 km further is decent and doesn't try to rip people off. No guessing for who gets my business.

              Now you mention VW you reminded me of another very funny ad - it wasn't officially claimed as theirs but its dark humour made it go virial pretty quickly anyway. I am, of course, talking about the VW Polo terrorist ad. Enjoy :)

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Puzzled

                Completely off topic, but rant mode on.

                Even if I was inclined to buy a VW, the only dealer in town here in Darwin is run by the biggest bunch of crooks it has ever been my misfortune to have to deal with (we bought a KIA and they are also the only dealer for them). I will no longer touch any vehicle brand they deal with. The next nearest VW dealer is 1500kms away in Alice Springs.

                We asked them to quote on finance as they claim to deal with numerous companies and would find the cheapest deal. All we wanted was a quote. We got a phone call asking us to come in, they would not quote us over the phone. When we arrived, they stuck papers in front of us and said sign here.

                The quote was from the finance company which happened to have a big sticker on the wall. The loan was for the whole amount at a ruinous interest rate. Without asking they had added numerous stuff like gap insurance, paint protection, window tinting and other crap.

                They were very surprised when I said no and that we would look elsewhere. We ended up getting a very good loan rate from a credit union. While we were sorting this out, we started getting very aggressive calls from them as they obviously wanted the sale on the books before the end of the month. On top of this, after sales service has been shocking, with them even dragging their feet over warranty issues. They charged my wife to replace some blown headlight bulbs. They blew again shortly after. This was being caused by an electrical fault which was fixed under warranty. When asked for a refund on the initial bulb replacement as they only blew due to a warranty fault they denied all knowledge of it and said they had no record of ever doing the work.

                In contrast, we bought a Hyundai and the local dealer for them are excellent. When we bought the car we had some issues getting the money transferred from overseas, so they lent us a loan car at no cost untile we had sorted this out. The one warranty issue I had with the car was resolved with no fuss and again they provided a no cost loan car.

                In summary, never buy any vehicle from a dealer named after a fish.

          2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: Puzzled

            Exactly. Buy a TV from a major brand, and if it goes TITSUP, the major brand is motivated (maybe) to help you get it repaired so their reputation doesn't suffer by bad reviews and they can sell more of them.

            Buy a no-name Chinese knock-off and nobody cares if it works or (more likely) not, because the "brand" is a throw-away and there's no company behind it.

            1. nijam

              Re: Puzzled

              > ... the major brand is motivated to help you get it repaired so their reputation doesn't suffer ...

              A-ha! I spy an optimist.

        2. Tikimon

          Re: Puzzled - A Case Study

          I sorrowfully agree that people abosrb a product being heavily advertised everywhere, and then go buy it without really thinking about it. Even if you convincingly suggest a better one!

          Here in the American South, we have these delightful creatures known as Fire Ants. More like red-hot poker ants, who ferociously defend the area around their nest. You really don't want them in your yard! There's a product called Amdro that's advertised everywhere - billboard, TV, radio. Supposedly you scatter the stuff around and within TWO WEEKS or so they'll feed it to the queen and the nest will die out. It's not very effective, and slow as dirt even when it is.

          I found a competing (but less advertised) product called Orthene. Sprinkle a little powder on the nest and they are every last one dead within 12 hours. Not exaggerating. I have spread this knowledge to everyone I know, emphasizing the quick and effective kill. Aaaaand most of them go buy yet another bag of Amdro since the last bag didn't do the job! I ask them why they ignored my advice and they can't provide a good answer. Most days I'm the prized and encyclopedic info source, but ubiquitous ads somehow override that. Go figure.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: Puzzled - A Case Study

            Surely though there's a difference between familiar brand ads that are spread around the town/TV and the sort of stuff that infuriates web users. Case in point. I was watching someone, this evening, browsing the web. All the time there was a noisy video playing to advertise some idiot get-rich-quick scheme, with exhortations to click into the ad. But whatever it was for it won't have done more than annoy the person. There wasn't a brand to recall, as such. Do enough suckers click on that sort of thing to make it all worthwhile? If so they're the ones to blame. I just hope the money they lose is enough punishment.

          2. keithpeter Silver badge

            Re: Puzzled - A Case Study

            "Sprinkle a little powder on the nest and they are every last one dead within 12 hours."

            @Tikimon: business opportunity. Set up as a Fire Ant Disposal Expert. Charge a fee just smaller than several bags of the branded product to apply your more effective alternative (in special plain red bags). Profit.

            Tramp: UK, so glad we have a temperate climate and non-invasive fauna.

            1. Dagg

              Re: Puzzled - A Case Study

              Tramp: UK, so glad we have a temperate climate and non-invasive fauna.

              What about the greater british CHAV...

      6. Lodgie

        Re: Puzzled

        Subliminal ads do not work as desired. They just annoy the crap out of anybody with half a brain.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge

          Re: Puzzled

          "Subliminal ads do not work as desired. They just annoy the crap out of anybody with half a brain."

          I'm at the point I don't even *SEE* the banner ads, whether or not 'NoScript' is causing them to not appear in the first place. And if your macula isn't trained on the ad, you don't see the content, either. It's just "a blur".

    2. Rattus Rattus

      On adblock-detectors

      I have uninstalled my ad-blockers and have switched to using Privacy Badger instead. I've found it does a better job of blocking ads on many sites than a dedicated ad-blocker, and isn't detected by their anti-adblock routines.

    3. Dave K Silver badge

      Re: Puzzled

      I agree. I do allow ads on a few sites I frequent, but only so long as those ads remain sensible and none-invasive.

      Recently, another red-bannered IT news site (that shall remain nameless) started blocking users with ad-blockers. So, as I do read that site regularly, I switched off my Ad Blocker on it, and good god what a mess. Auto-playing videos right in the middle of the article, constant connections to all manner of ad sites going on, and the pages took an eternity to load and absolutely crawled along (with my CPU usage rocketing as a result).

      So, the ad-blocker went back on, along with YesScript to block the ad-block check script, and suddenly the pages load really quickly and reading them is a breeze. Hence, I'm not surprised that people either block or ignore the nastier and more invasive ads out there. Not surprised one bit.

  4. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    you'd think...

    More targeted ads aimed at a specific audience would be much better than the scatter gun approach that seems to be the current method these days.

    It's almost like the more Google knows about its target markets for an ad the less it cares. It just becomes background noise.

    As for elderly regs ads. Having highly targeted ads for a specific audience is no bad thing as it at least means that it's honest(ish this is marketing we're talking about) ads for a discerning market that might genuinely be interested rather than passing through.

    As to how to solve this. Other than getting Google to work harder for their bucks I don't know but then I'm not a marketer....

    1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser

      Re: you'd think...

      By "Targeted ads" do you mean the demeaning dross from so many online ejits along the line of "you just bought a widget so we'll cram endless ads for even more widgets down your e-throat"

      Pathetic, isn't it?

      1. inmypjs Silver badge

        Re: you'd think...

        "of "you just bought a widget so we'll cram endless ads for even more widgets"

        After 30 years use the downstairs bog seat broke. Bought a replacement from Amazon who for the next 9 months or so thought I ought be interested in buying more of them.

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: you'd think...

          After 30 years use the downstairs bog seat broke. Bought a replacement from Amazon who for the next 9 months or so thought I ought be interested in buying more of them.

          Could've been worse. You know they have a delivery subscription option now?

          You'd be knee-deep in khazi seats before you could say "cancel CANCEL unsubscribe ^C ^X quit exit Alexa how do I stop these toilet seats appearing every day"

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: you'd think...

        Or "here are multiple ads for that thing you already just looked at". Why do ad vendors think it is sensible to advertise things at me that I have already been looking at? Not even competing products or vendors which might make some sense, but the same sodding product at the same evendor I have just been browsing.

        Do they think that I possibly forgot that I just ordered a thing 5 minutes ago and that they need to advertise at me to go back and buy it again?

    2. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: you'd think...

      As for elderly regs ads

      Autocorrect/predictive keyboards are a bugger, aren't they, when you try to post to El Reg?

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: you'd think...

        Ugh.... I would use the mobile site but it doesn't have icons. Blame it on bored bus journey home..

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: you'd think...

      "Other than getting Google to work harder for their bucks I don't know but then I'm not a marketer"

      One thing Google could have done is used their alleged AI chops to keep malvertising out of the system.

    4. Patrician

      Re: you'd think...

      Targeted Ads don't work, or rather don't work as they're intended to work; as a for instance, I was looking, online, at hotels to book for a weekend in London last year. I settled on a hotel and booked it but for the next couple of months I was seeing "targeted" advertising for the very hotel I'd already booked.

      What I should have been seeing, if targeted ads worked, is ads for events and offers for things to do in London surely?

  5. VinceH


    This article reinforces a conclusion I've already come to - viewers are being pissed off and advertisers ripped off by the same obnoxious condom escapees.

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: Optional

      Thank you for the phrase "condom escapees". Might possibly supplant "cockwomble" as my preferred term of derision.

      1. VinceH

        Re: Optional

        I thought I'd come up with something original with condom escapees, but a quick search reveals that I apparently didn't..

        Ho hum.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Optional

          I thought I'd come up with something original with condom escapees, but a quick search reveals that I apparently didn't..

          Does this show that subliminal advertising does work?

          1. VinceH

            Re: Optional

            Well, at first glance none of the search results (other than to this very site/thread) are sites I read so, no, it's not a hint that the condom escapees who suggest such crap are correct. :)

            It's just a coincidence - I thought of it independently, but so have other people before me.

  6. John Lilburne

    The Register invited ...

    ... both Google and Facebook to respond to Hoffman's claims. Neither responded.

    Well isn't that like asking Vito Corleone to comment on racketeering?

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: The Register invited ...

      That's slander. Vito Corleone never ran any rackets. All he ever did was to make people offers. Offers they just could not refuse.

  7. x 7

    I never realised El Reg ran adverts. I've never seen one on its site. Where are they? What am I doing wrong?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @X7, ElReg ads.

        I've never seen ads here AND I've never heard any complaints about them!

        -Signed, Helen Keller

        (anon because the bounds of good taste are a loooooong way behind me)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @X7, ElReg ads.

        I know! I've never seen ads here either!

        *cough* DevOps *cough*

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a colossal waste of money!

    Billions upon billions of pounds/dollars spent annoying people for no good reason. In the 1970s we used to receive free trial products in the mail; a box of laundry soap, or a packet of lotion (not to DRINK, Russian people!), and whatnot. Now all that money is spent on the message, which no one wants to see or hear, and almost none for freebie handouts. I don't even see adverts anymore since I rarely consume ad-friendly web pages or apps, and I have been without a cable/satellite service for a year now, and... LOVING IT! So, the only way to reach people like me is to hand us some free swag. Period.

    Stop spending money on silly commercials on shitty TV programs and give us some free shit, you fucking assholes! Do it, DO IT NOW! :)

    Thank you.

    1. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: What a colossal waste of money!

      You're missing the point.

      Advertisers appear to spend on advertising for three reasons:

      Big Brands:

      Product positioning: it isn't an over-engineered, overpriced road-tractor, its an adventure lifestyle! It isn't an anti-social noise-generating device for distracting you from those around you, its a keep-you-connected-to-people mobile phone, entertainment centre and its all about YOU.

      Excluding competitors: You don't want other companies appearing to be significant by being able to run saturation advertising campaigns (music shows, chewing gum, soft drinks, mobile phones, fried-food etc). The aim is to fill the mind of the advertised-to so that there is no room for other brands.

      "Local" Brands:

      Hello I'm here!: car/boat lots, mattress and tile outlets and family restaurants.

      Most products are pretty generic, so there's little point giving out samples.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Freebies

      There are frequently gangs of students outside London rail stations handing out freebie samples of various things like Knorr cooking sauces or instant soup powder. I've walked past the entrance to Charing Cross and ended up with four or five given to me by different people.

      1. keithpeter Silver badge

        Re: Freebies

        @werdsmith: In Birmingham it seems to be strangely flavoured soft drinks. I just collect a few on the way in and hand them out to students.

        Coat: can fit about 4 cans in my greatcoat.

    3. phuzz Silver badge
      IT Angle

      Re: What a colossal waste of money!

      There's also a whole bunch of people who work in advertising, and if they're not making adverts, why would anyone bother paying them?

      So the marketing people make adverts because that's what their job is, and the companies put the adverts everywhere because otherwise they've wasted the money they've spent on the marketing people.

      Nobody in this loop benefits from finding out how effective the adverts actually are, instead it's better to spend the time working out how to spend the bonuses they'll get for whatever artificial metric they picked.

  9. kain preacher

    What I hate is a browse amazon for a vacuum cleaner. I buy said vacuum cleaner . Now I visit a site and they are trying sell me a vacuum cleaner. Um to late and now you are pissing me off.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wish there was a way to click on an ad and say "Thanks but no thanks, not interested in this" and never see that one again. Surely the advertisers would love this, they'd then not have to pay to display their ad to someone who's said they're not interested.

    Also quit it with the autostart video ads. If El Reg promised not to use those, I'd turn off ABP on this site.

    1. LaeMing

      Advertisers would love it, but the people charging them to present the adverts on their behalf would loose out, and they are the ones who have no incentive to offer such a thing.

      Unless a 'disruptive player' shows up selling that specific service as an advantage to people. And assuming they can survive the wrath and associated dirty-tactics of the status-quo cabal.

    2. cyberdemon Silver badge

      All the bad ads

      Require JavaScript.

      If it's not to run some obnoxious autoplay video, then its to spy on your mouse cursor or (more usually) to pull in other random ads from some delivery network, which then allows nefarious advertisers to do a switcheroo to bypass vetting.. (e.g. the download pages with umpteen different "download" buttons) I'm assuming these are pointing to something innocuous if/when the admen do any vetting of the adverts..

      (I also assume this is what is happening on Facebook's malware "adverts" - with clickbait fake-news banners e.g. "FANS' OUTPOURING OF GRIEF OVER DEATH OF SIR PAUL MCARTNEY" which my dad clicked on, only to be assaulted by a fullscreen scam-page accompanied with a loud booming voice saying "YOUR COMPUTER HAS BEEN INFECTED WITH A VIRUS! FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY TO REGAIN CONTROL OF YOUR COMPUTER" - I'm giving Facebook the benefit of the doubt here - it's entirely probable that they don't vet their adverts whatsoever..)

      Someone above noted that he needs "half a dozen plugins" to get rid of all the ads. That's not true: You only need one - a whitelist JavaScript blocker such as NoScript (firefox) or ScriptSafe (chrome) is all I use - no ABP. The nice thing about this is that HTML-only adverts, which are almost always non-intrusive, display just fine, so honest admen can still get revenue. And if I do see one of these honest, non-intrusive adverts, I am reasonably likely to click on it. (HINT HINT EL REG)

      As for the "thanks but no thanks" - I'm sure they would appreciate your feedback to let their neural-networks know that you are most probably an actual real person, but they would use that information just to serve you with ever-more-obnoxious ads, while focussing your attention on their little iframe, rather than the site that you wanted to read, until you give up and click on one.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: All the bad ads

        "Someone above noted that he needs "half a dozen plugins" to get rid of all the ads. That's not true: You only need one - a whitelist JavaScript blocker such as NoScript (firefox) or ScriptSafe (chrome) is all I use - no ABP. The nice thing about this is that HTML-only adverts, which are almost always non-intrusive, display just fine"

        Two things. One, HTML5 supports video without JavaScript. Two, many of the ads are keyed to the site or sit on the site itself, so blocking the ad blocks the site, too. And for some of us, the sites have no alternatives (like driver sites, third parties are a security risk).

        1. cyberdemon Silver badge

          Re: All the bad ads

          HTML5 supports video, but it won't autoplay without JavaScript. You get a nice 'play' button instead. At least on all sane browsers.

          Yes it's true that some sites are going down the road of forcing you to watch ads by surreptitious means, but those sites are starting to ditch the WWW anyway - "please download our APP instead". The only answer is don't use them.

          As for driver sites: they're ALL security risks. Run Linux. :P

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: All the bad ads

            "As for driver sites: they're ALL security risks. Run Linux. :P"

            Um, many devices DON"T HAVE Linux drivers, or the support is too spotty to be useful. I run into that problem all the time. So no, Linux is not an option.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    read more Ad Contrarian!

    Frankly, everybody should be reading Bob Hoffman's Ad Contrarian blog. Even if you know nothing about advertising / marketing, it's fucking hilarious. Also he says "fuck" a lot.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Thanks a ton!

      With writing like this it went straight onto my RSS feed:

      You have to ask yourself why these people continue to do this stuff when it is of no value? There are two reasons.

      First, despite its meaninglessness, there is still a demand for this nonsense among other marketing people who also know nothing.

      And second, this is the only thing these people know how to do. If they don't do it, what the fuck else are they going to do?

      So what we have here is people who know nothing paying other people who know nothing to do something that is useless.

      Which turns out to be a pretty good definition of social media marketing.

  12. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Marketeers = Idiot

    Most ads fail at their most basic function - to inform one about why your product or services is worth my time and money. The marketing idiots have not figured out that memorable ad campaigns get one's attention.

    1. John Lilburne

      Re: Marketeers = Idiot

      You cannot engage with people via internet ads. Web surfers have the attention span of a bee as they flit about the meadow they are solely interested in pollen and couldn't give a shit about any one flower. If brands want our attention then they have to provide content that we are interested in. Ads won't do it they simply get in the way of the content we are looking for.

      If I'm looking to buy a X I put X into a search engine find a supplier and buy an X. Job done. Which particular X I buy will depend on what I find at that particular point in time. If I'm doing the weekly household shop I'll buy what I've previously bought that was good and shun that which turned out not to be good.

  13. skeptical i

    changin' times, changin' ways

    re: "The fraudsters are way ahead of the 'good guys' and know exactly how to simulate online human behavior through bots." At least 'good guys' is in quotes, since it sounds like a duel between parties who deserve each other.

    That said, once upon a time many adverts on teevee were well done and had some creative ideas (see, for example, the "isn't it nice when things just work?" advert for Honda featuring a continuous shot of a Rube Goldberg assemblage of car parts interacting together). Dunno how Honda could port that advert today across online, social media, mobile devices, and who-knows-where/how people get their information without losing the "wow, neato" effect of the teevee version; from my observation most marketing people nowadays wouldn't even try, since shoving aggro-verts at us is cheaper and faster than flexing creative muscle.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Advertising in general is useless...

    Some time ago in Holland a global company ("Unilever") wanted to get rid of a specific brand of butter ("Zeeuws Meisje") and so they decided to stop all marketing activities. They were convinced that this would be enough to slowly kill off the brand after which they could take it out of the market.

    Result? After 6 months it turned out that the sales figures had gone up, not down.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Advertising in general is useless...

      The problem is that the best products advertise themselves and the worst products poison everything around them with there mere presence. That leaves no work for ad men who know nothing else, and they've been at this for well over a century. So they simply find work with everything in between: not good enough to advertise themselves yet not irksome enough to become self-averting.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Advertising in general is useless...

      Zeeuws Meisje was apparently a margarine, and a popular Dutch tv series.

      That is hardly 'stopping advertising'

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    El Reg's ads

    I use 5 different ad blockers simultaneously, but on iPhone I can't. As much as I hate ads I'll give it the Reg they choose ads which don't get in my way or attempt to takeover my screen.

    Thank you it is genuinely appreciated and I wish more sites would take notice.

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: El Reg's ads

      FYI - the iCab browser (well, front-end to Webkit, but you know what I mean) has adblocking capabilities on iPhone.

  16. The New Turtle

    OTOH maybe we should be grateful to the morons for continuing to fund our viewing of t'internet - and the poor suckers who unwittingly give up their bandwidth to view the trash.

    I too run a couple of different blockers, but even before I did, generally speaking advertising on web sites would make me avoid brands, rather than consider them positively.

  17. Lodgie

    Our lot have been selling online since 1999. We track all sales so we know what is cost effective and what isn't, ROI is measured. The only online spend that works well for us (specialised sports products) is Google Shopping, followed by very carefully controlled Adwords campaigns that don't go anywhere near associate sites. Facebook is a complete waste of money - we've tried it up, down and sideways, it is useless.

    If you employ an agency to run campaigns, be very, very careful as most do not have a bulls notion of how the interweb works, they just want to pick up their commission cheques and client fees in exchange for some impressive graphics. It is a minefield and great way of making someone else rich.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ads must be the topic that gets under most people's skin.

    There's a basic TV listing site I look at to see what's on the box (yes I don't have internetty telly) and Ad Blocker deosn't block all the ads - it's slow and it's become so annoying I just won't go to that site any more.

    Anyone else ever found when you click on Register job ads you suddenly get a call from an employment agent?

    I make sure I auto clear all cookies now and use anon email accounts.

    But I took the ad agency online department's dollar for 10 years thank you very much. At least not flogging guns and tobacco!

  19. James 47

    If your DSP cannot do the targeting and data reporting for you then it's time for a new one.

  20. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    I know they're not getting rich from me..

    I go to great pains to block invasive ads in all media. I will actually buy a competitor's product if a product is aggressively marketed to me. And sites that will not function with ad-blockers engaged are either modified with Firebug/NoScript so I can see the content I want, or usually I will just go elsewhere for the same news, etc.

    If you have to try to bully someone into buying your crappy product or pointless service, it's just not going to happen. What kind of people actually are enticed enough by aggravating, blinking, invasive ads enough to even bother clicking on them? Forget "Madmen", they should have a series on the idiots that create this level of advertisement. They can call it "Mindless Wankers Not Fit to Live Among Us" (Title needs some work) Not sure how they would promote it though..

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Not sure how they would promote it though..

      Well duh, online advertising. Obviously.

    2. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: I know they're not getting rich from me..

      @Unicornpiss they should have a series on the idiots that create this level of advertisement. They can call it "Mindless Wankers Not Fit to Live Among Us" (Title needs some work)

      Well, yes, if only because you'd instantly be sued into oblivion by the makers of [Celebrity] Big Brother, The Apprentice, Benefits Street etc. for causing confusion and/or overlap with their shows.

  21. TimNevins

    Use the Raspberry Pi-Hole

    This blocks for all devices on a home network so means you do not have to spend too much effort on a device by device basis.

    1. 's water music

      Re: Use the Raspberry Pi-Hole

      damnit, I just spent a couple of days struggling through getting BIND and Apache set up to do this and then crunching up several different blackhole lists to do this and pi-hole has nice reporting too. If only they used SEO to get picked up by my online research beforehand

    2. Me too

      Re: Use the Raspberry Pi-Hole

      This - totally.

      I've had one on my network for a little while. It took some playing about, because my BT Broadband router doesn't allow you to set DNS servers (pi-hole becomes the one you use). I got around it by making the Pi-hole my DHCP server too, but in the latest version they've included the setup of that in the web interface, so even my slight reservations about recommending it are now moot.

      On a Pi 2 Model B, it seems to take less than 5% of the CPU to handle a household of 8 devices, but the loading of logs isn't quick.

  22. pauleverett

    70% of the content on this page, as I write, is an add. the backdrop is filled with one add. The right column a bunch of blocks for the same advertiser. The header way too big. I explicitly don't click on them cos they nag the death out of me. Maybe online content providers need to get back to the magic of selling adds themselves. Just like the old days... They offload all the work, losing all the control, and driving their primary content audience nuts. There are people like me that would not mind paying to get a cohesive add up on the register,in a sensible place for sensible money. regardless of clicks. An Add that does not annoy the shit of the people I would want to reach out to. choices? All there is is agents. They take the lions share of your money, and your the site gives up control. The result is kinda bad for everyone, accept the add agency. Clicks can get ridiculously expensive, and the site that the adds go on does not get a fair deal. IMO, they way online advertising has gone, is in the wrong direction, and its about time a little startup showed the big boys how all needs to be done, from a site and audience point of view.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I must have evolved further than the rest of you, or I have a narrow field of vision, because I didn't even realise that there were ads on this site. It comes from many years of blanking out the column on the right of the page. I trained myself initially ignoring the wife, now ex-wife!

    Privacy badger works on my other platforms.

  24. James 36


    Bill Hicks said it best

    I do click on the odd ad on this website just to keep you in pennies as I am nice like that

  25. NatalieEGH

    To be honest, I basically ignore most advertisements. The exceptions are the youtube presentations I watch like JayzTwoCents on computer builds or those on Revzilla when looking for bike parts. Basically if I am looking for something, I pay attention to the ads presented on the site that are related to my object of interest at the time. LIke I just had to look around the page to discover their are ads for Revzilla, a infosec conference, and a follow with a bird icon, facebook, google, and a speaker(???) icon. Sorry I am retired and only use the programs I need/want so I do not know all the types of social media. I do not need to stay connected.

    As to e-mails, I trash anything I do not recognize without opening. When they start filling up my mail to fast, I will open, go to the bottom and unsubscribe, not that I subscribed to start with.

    For me junk mail goes directly into my trash can. Electronically I do the same thing.

    If the advertisers were to have a site that allowed looking at ads by subject, and the ads provided at least reasonable information not superlatives or exaggerations or out-right lies, I would be more than willing to go to that sight, review the ads for the product I desire, and then do more detailed comparison on vendor sites for final product selection. I think that is why I like JayzTwoCents. It tells me what all is out there and gives a mostly unbiased review, that I use as a starting point. I do not want hype. I want information.

  26. BroFarOps

    It pays the bills and salaries no matter what... We all have been inconvenienced persé via TV, radio, and so on.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021