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The Web: Pop-Up Blockers Not Working
Sunday, 2005 February 20 - 2:32 pm
Web advertisers have recently started getting around pop-up blockers.

Have you started noticing more pop-up and pop-under ads lately, even though you're using Firefox or Safari?

It's not you, and it's not your browser. Advertisers recently have come up with ways to skirt the blocking mechanisms.

I'm actually surprised it's taken this long. Most pop-up blockers work on pretty simple principles: they look for certain JavaScript tags indicating that a pop-up has been requested. Now, look at this code currently being used by FastClick.com:

doc.write('<scr'+'ipt language="javascript" src="http://media.fastclick.net');
doc.write('/w/pop.cgi?sid=3594&m=2&v=1.7e&u='+url+'&c='+bust+'"></scr'+'ipt>');

The noteworthy thing is that it uses "doc.write" to dynamically write content into the web page, and it disguises the keyword "script" by splitting it into two pieces. Pretty sneaky, sis.

You could turn off JavaScript altogether to get around this, but that would make problems for a lot of sites, including mine. So for now, the best bet might be just to live with the problem until the authors of Safari and Firefox come up with a solution. I don't think there's a magic bullet that will work in every circumstance (unless we ban all pop-up windows, including legitimate ones). But at the very least, I think we shouldn't allow pop-ups that are not the result of an explicit user click.

By the way, there's another, more insidious form of pop-up windows: ad images that are simply drawn with JavaScript on top of the site content, until the user clicks a "close" button. Those are even more difficult to block, since they rely on the same technology used for JavaScript-based menus in web pages. Argh.

It's a never-ending battle.
Permalink  1 Comment   Bookmark and Share
Posted by Ken in: techwatch

Comments

Comment #1 from TG (Guest)
2006 Jun 5 - 11:15 pm : #
Oh my god, you have no idea. I get so many pop ups a day it isn't even funny. I have firefox, but my interenet explorer still generates pop ups even when I'm not using it. And firefox even generates a few. But with internet explorer, i can get up to 40 pop ups a day, without even being on the internet. I thought this was a spyware problem, which I had alot, so i have to clean it everyday, because i get alot of that too. I don't know why I get so much. I get like 40 spyware objecs a day and i don't know why.

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