AOL To Let Users Block Pop-Up Ads
The software will let users block outside ads as well as those from AOL and companies within its corporate parent
NEW YORK (AP) - Once derided for flurries of pop-up advertisements, America Online says it will soon offer its customers the ability to banish the litter of unsolicited windows that appear atop and underneath its Web pages.
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AOL Web Pop-Up Controls was to be available to customers Wednesday for download, and will appear in future versions of AOL's software, the company said.
Users will be able to block outside ads, as well as those authored by AOL and the other media companies within AOL Time Warner, its corporate parent, said AOL spokesman Andrew Weinstein.
"AOL's new Pop-Up Controls will allow our members to explore the Web without being trapped in pop-up purgatory," said David Gang, AOL's executive vice president for marketing. "We asked our members to tell us how we can continue to improve the AOL service, and this was near the top of their wish list."
AOL trails Internet service provider EarthLink, which last year began offering its customers a free program called Pop-Up Blocker.
Pop-ups are like oil spills on the Internet - they pollute without adding value, said Jakob Nielsen, an Internet usability expert with Nielsen Norman Group.
"One the one hand, it's good for AOL to offer a pop-up blocker," Nielsen said. "But on the other hand, that's like an oil tanker carrying a clean-up crew because the captain knows he's going to spill the cargo. Repairing the ship before leaving port would be the better choice."
Several small software firms already sell or give away pop-up blockers, which operate on varying degrees of aggressiveness. At times, the software blocks more than ads, preventing users from seeing windows that display help information, photo enlargements or sales details.
AOL said its software allows users to see which sites have attempted to deliver pop-ups to them. If the customer wants to get pop-ups from a particular Web site, the user can add the site to a personal "allow list."
The browser will display a running total of the number of pop-ups and pop-unders blocked during each session, AOL said.