How can I stop floaters? The annoying ads everywhere! I read the code but
fail to locate anything. Host file is useless; the pop-up blocker is just not
that effective. What do I do?
In this excerpt from
Answercast #89, I look at the way that many pop-up ads on websites work and
why they are there.
Block floating ads
So I assume you’re referring to the various ads that show up on the websites that you visit, (potentially even including Ask Leo! – I’ll speak to that in a minute.)
The “floaters” (pop-up boxes that appear when you mouse over things) are actually not pop-ups. I know it doesn’t make sense because they “pop up.” But they are not pop-ups in the classic sense.
Popping ads aren’t pop-ups
They are not separate windows. They are not separate controls or something that most pop-up blockers even notice and would be able to stop.
What they are is actually the page, the web page itself, dynamically changing itself so that its content now includes that box that has the ad in it.
Block with the hosts file
Normally those ads come from other sites. The host file is absolutely one way to block these things.
The hard part is of course identifying just what domain you need to do that to – because it’s rarely obvious.
Ads on the internet
Now, in the case of Ask Leo! I have these kind of floating ads on my site. Until recently, they’ve been a significant portion of the revenue that keeps Ask Leo! free.
I think it’s important to understand that the advertising you see on sites like Ask Leo! and other sites are how those websites manage to keep their information free. When you end up blocking advertisements you’re actually blocking that website’s ability to pay for what it needs to pay for – and putting its actual existence at risk.
I know that just one person doing that doesn’t impact that much. But of course, if many people end up doing that, the revenues for the site go down and the site becomes at risk of no longer being viable. I have to admit that advertising revenues on Ask Leo! are down, and it is impacting my ability to put out the site.
That being said, I do have an article on the site called “What are these ads that look like links on your site?” and it includes instructions for disabling those ads, specifically from Ask Leo!
Yes, it involves modifying the host file. All I really do is identify what domains you need to redirect to 127.0.0.1.
Ads pay for content
So, it can be done. I urge you to think twice about consuming content, reading content without “paying the price” of having the advertisements displayed on that site. But if a site has advertisements that are so distracting and so egregious then, actually, I strongly encourage you to do two things:
Tell the site owner – and if that’s Ask Leo! you’re complaining about, tell me.
Vote with your feet. Don’t go back to the site. Don’t take their content without “paying for it” – just don’t go back.
Websites live by traffic, and when you don’t go back those are the kinds of things that also impact and send actually a bigger message to the web site owner than people blocking ads.
(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)