July 27, 2007

Flash Banner Ads Are Evading My Web Filters

Nobody wants to see ads any more. We skip commercials on our TiVo, mute commercials during live ball games or events, change radio stations during breaks, and can generally ignore ads in magazines or billboards. On the Web, there's also plenty of software out there that can help us ignore crass commercialism, such as plugins for FireFox and Safari Web browsers, and junk mail filters built into most modern e-mail clients, including Apple's Mail. But as advertisers get more hip to the simple "right click and add to filter" practice, it looks like their move is to use Flash in their ads, and so far, those ads are slipping through.

For the last few years, I've used the PithHelmet ad filter program on Safari to weed out DoubleClick, Federated Media and more. But as Apple introduced Safari 3.0 beta on Mac and Windows, PithHelmet hasn't kept up. With the ads back, I downloaded SafariBlock and have been starting over, right clicking on all ads I see, and adding a * asterisk for wildcards so I won't see anything like them again. But if I right click on Flash ads, that option isn't there. I also don't have any way to hide Google's text-based AdSense advertising, which pollutes many blogs and media sites.

I expect there to be a continued war of development between the advertising community and those of us consumers who want to decide for ourselves, without pervasive marketing. Today, Flash and AdSense are the filters' achilles heel, and are driving me a tad nutty. I wonder how long I have to wait until the filters catch up...

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