The man behind pop-up ads Ethan Zuckerman says sorry for ever creating them

The web designer responsible for the pop-up ads that have plagued web users for over a decade has issued an apology for his creation, insisting that his “intentions were good”.

Ethan Zuckerman now works at MIT

Ethan Zuckerman, head of the center for civic media at MIT, explained the circumstances regarding the design of the annoying ad delivery medium in an essay published on Friday.

Zuckerman said: “At the end of the day, the business model that got us funded was advertising. The model that got us acquired was analysing users’ personal homepages so we could better target ads to them.

"Along the way, we ended up creating one of the most hated tools in the advertiser’s toolkit: the pop-up ad.”

Zuckerman added: “It was a way to associate an ad with a user’s page without putting it directly on the page, which advertisers worried would imply an association between their brand and the page’s content.”

Working for Tripod.com between 1994 and 1999, Zuckerman was tasked with designing and implementing a website that marketed content and services to recent college graduates.

However, he explained how the site was failing after trying several business models, including subscription services and t-shirt sales. As a result, he created the pop-up ad which provided a reliable stream of income.

The web pioneer commented that a major car company freaked out in the early days of the web when its page-integrated ads featured on a webpage devoted to anal sex.

He stated he had to come up with a way to keep the ads flowing without juxtaposing or relating the ad to the webpage content.

On the genesis of the pop-up Zuckerman explained: “I wrote the code to launch the window and run an ad in it. I’m sorry. Our intentions were good."

Digital advertising took another step forward earlier this week after Twitter announced a 'Promoted Video' feature allowing brands to share video ads to users' timelines.

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