Eyeblaster Ads & Message Service Spam

Have you seen these ads that zoom all over your web browser? And slow computers freeze while this excrescence of capitalism-gone-mad is loaded.

I invented the term "insult ads" when I noticed one featuring insult comedian Don Rickles schilling for Las Vegas. Well, the self-damning name is eyeblasters. (Update: 04/18/2003. Link changed to ad gallery link. Warning: Will STILL eyeblast you.) The moniker "Eyeblaster" is appropriate for ads that behave like a hyperactive three year old hopped up on powdered sugar.

Highlights from a spec sheet of these crimes against decency:
(Updated 03/25/2003: The original spec sheet is gone, replaced by a spec sheet that features "istreams", or streaming video that is automatically played. But the original is worth quoting, so here you go: )

"Frequency Cap: One per 20-minute user session." —
They'll only be a water drop on your face every twenty minutes, how can you call that torture?

"Audio: Yes (can be host-initiated)" —
Can be host-initiated? You mean the ad can be set to be polite and let people turn the sound off, but the default is to assault them with it. If there's a good executive summary for usability, it's "making computers polite and helpful."

"Move Duration: 15 seconds".—
Excuse me? You admit you're hijacking the browser for 15 seconds, not counting download time?

Even more cutting edge in user-savage marketing evils is "Windows Message Service" spam-vertising. This uses a built-in Windows service to send popups without you even havnig a browser open. All you need is an Internet connection. I received a message like this yesterday, despite having ZoneAlarm on.

Guess what it was for? A service that will turn your Window Message Service off for you. They want you to pay them to go away. That's a hell of a business model.

I Googled to this helpful page about Windows Message Service Spam and how to turn it off, which I did.

Why does this anger me? It's like a public campground. It only takes a few hormone-drunk adolescents and some spray paint to pollute the whole place and make it seedy.

These make-money-fast, con artists don't care if they firehose the Internet with the white noise of spam so long as they make money. And spam is ever-growing, seeking new channels and increasing the amount in old channels. If information is viewed as a biological system, spam is cancer.

Turning to more traditional email spam, some enterprising folks have organized a junk mail campaign—using actual physical letters—against one of the most offensive spammers .

How else to fight back? I would love for an epileptic to sue the flashing ad banner people. People with extreme sensitivity to sudden sound bursts (like some autistic children) would be ideal candidates for lawsuits about automatically playing sound. Lawsuits will get these squalid, money-grubbers' attention like nothing else.

Posted by Chad Lundgren on Wednesday, December 11, 2002 (Link)


Posted by Zenhaiku Rules Saturday, December 14, 2002 at 07:08 PM

I no longer install flash. Now when ever is see a square box with the flash logo thing I think to myself HAHA!!(Neslon from Simpsons)

Posted by Shannon Monday, December 16, 2002 at 10:49 AM

I used to be completely againt the "I'll sue you" mentality, but the other day I was surfing around on the internet, and I suddenly heard a phone ringing. It didn't sound like my phone, so I didn't try to answer it. I then discovered a popup message that had hidden itself behind the page I was reading -- and it was ringing. And ringing, and ringing. Until I asked it nicely to quit ringing.

That's why I love Mozilla. With Mozilla you can direct the browser to never open a popup window. It amazing how quickly I adapted to right-clicking and selecting 'open in new window' for sites I needed popups for (like signing in to a credit card site or looking at an enlarged version of a photo on a weblog).

Plus, with Mozilla you can re-size fonts on a page even if the pixel size is set in the HTML (like my weblog was set up before the new design).

Posted by Chad Lundgren Sunday, December 22, 2002 at 11:17 PM

More aggressive advertising stupidity: The increasingly desperate Orbitz people are doing what is called a "kick through" in which all you have to do is move your mouse over an ad and it hurls a popup at you.


Given what I knew is technically possible, this shouldn't surprise me, but it does.

Gotta love these violent terms: "eyeblast", "kick through", and so on.
What's next, user slam?

The one I haven't seen mentioned is the pop up window that is maximized and has the title bar turned off. I never use the Close button offered but the keyboard short-cut Alt-F4, which is your friend when battling popups.

Posted by Lee Drake Tuesday, February 4, 2003 at 10:16 AM

Hey, thanks for the link to my site. I provide the viruswarning mailing list as a public service, and was surprised to see the huge jump in hits after you linked in my site from a cool site name like www.zenhaiku.com :)

If anyone wants to sign up for the viruswarning list they are welcome to. The service is absolutely free. I promise you that all I will ever send out in the way of adverstising is a once per year announcement of who the companies are the sponsor and submit to the viruswarning list. You will never get spam from me, and I will never sell your name or email address. The list is moderator publish only and I purge the email addresses of potential spammers as soon as their email bounces :)

To sign up for the mailing list send a mail to:
from: the address you want to get the mail at (rough volume no more than once per week unless there's a significant virus outbreak).
Subject Subscribe viruswarning
Subscribe Viruswarning {your name here}

That's all there is to it.

Be sure your return address is a valid address.

You can also browse the forum at http://www.leedrake.com/forum/default.asp?CAT_ID=2 to see past missives.

Posted by Zeke Buzby Sunday, February 16, 2003 at 04:48 PM

THANK YOU!!!!!! as you I am so damn tired of Message service, I polay an online game that freezes the computer every time that thing comes on and usually kills my charecter, I am gratfull to you for this help, thank you:):):):):)

Posted by ben Thursday, September 18, 2003 at 11:09 AM

You may not even recieve this but thx for all the help. Those stupid pop ups w/ spam were really getting annoying. Especially when I was playing a game, the booted back to the desktop to see it staring at me when it came up. Good thing I have the free 1045 hour one or else I would cancel my service. Thx For All The Help