Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

Survey Pop Ups – Annoying Ad or Even More Annoying Spyware?

Question: I have Windows 7 Pro; I use Firefox and Chrome. When I click on a link on a web page, I’m sidetracked into a survey. AdBlocker doesn’t help. Do you have any suggestions?

Unfortunately, your question is a little vague. There are a couple of different directions that I could take with a solution.

So let me first refine this question with another question: does this only happen on some sites?

For example, are there specific sites that you visit and when you’re there, a little graphic that says, “Take our survey!” appears? On some pages, does it pop up in the middle of the screen or floats in your line of vision as you try to scroll? Maybe you see it when you browse an article on one site, but you don’t see it on another?

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

Surveys as revenue

Survey TakerIf you’re only seeing this graphic on specific sites, then I would expect that the surveys that you’re seeing are something that the site has actually implemented.

Some websites make money by getting visitors to take surveys before they actually read the content. It doesn’t matter whether you’re using Firefox, Chrome, or Internet Explorer. When you launch the page, the floating survey pop-up appears over your text.

Ad Blockers can’t block everything and they certainly can’t necessarily block all of the different kinds of techniques used to make this happen.

But let’s say you’re seeing the survey on multiple unrelated sites. In that case, it’s possible that you may have malware on your machine.

Survey as spyware

Some forms of spyware do what you’ve just described. No matter what site you’re visiting, they hijack the link that appears on the page that you’re looking at and redirects you so you’re looking at something else – an ad, a page of information, or a survey.

In your situation, the first thing to do is to run a complete and thorough anti-virus and anti-spyware scan with an anti-malware tool that has recently been updated to the latest database. That way, you can make sure that your machine actually doesn’t have some malware on it.

You should also download and run the free version of the tool from Malwarebytes has a history of catching the malware that some of the other tools don’t.

Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

5 comments on “Survey Pop Ups – Annoying Ad or Even More Annoying Spyware?”

  1. You wrote, “…run a complete and thorough anti-virus
    and anti-spyware scan
    with an anti-malware tool …
    You should also download and run the free version of the tool from

    Erm… that’s four different programs ? It was my understanding that you shouldn’t have more than one, lest they interfere with each other.

    You shouldn’t run more than one real-time anti-virus program at the same time. You shouldn’t run more than one anti-spyware program at the same time. Anti-malware refers to both anti-spyware and anti-virus, so it’s not referring to an additional anything. I’m not suggesting that the real-time component of MalwareBytes be run, just run a standalone scan because it does catch things that sometimes others don’t.


  2. Leo,

    You have: “the floating survey pop-up appears over your test.” Don’t you mean “text” (;

    My experience with this type of thing is: If it’s legitimate, clicking on the “close” or “X” makes it go away. If it doesn’t go away, or brings up another pop-up, then the best thing to do is close that page and try accessing it again.

    Some sites use rotating or random-select ads through another source. Not all these other sources are that careful of who places ads. Like you point out, though, these will be site/page specific.

    It’s always a good idea to have multiple malware checkers on hand and run them each every so often for a one-time search. However, don’t have more than one running full-time.

  3. @Old Man
    Thanks for the heads-up. I fixed it.
    In addition to what you said about clicking on the small x in the upper right corner, often when you click on a “No” or “Close” button in the pop-up, in many cases, that button is a fake and still brings you to the undesirable page.The small x usuall closes the pop-up.


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.