Ah, the 2000’s. Remember when all the banner ads above your favorite flash-game website (or in some cases, your favorite news site) were just as bright and colorful as the games themselves? The 2000’s were the first decade with widespread internet access on machines that were finally, finally user friendly enough for children to use. Children, who are easily fooled by bright flashing colors. Children, who can’t imagine that someone would go online and make up a lie about winning an iPad, just to steal their mother’s credit card information. What happened to those banner ads? Not that anybody misses them, but…
They Aged Out.
As more and more people become aware of a phenomenon, the less likely they are to fall for it. Banner ads, even non-malicious ones, rarely lead to where they promised in the early days of the internet. If it didn’t end in something unsavory being downloaded to the browser, it could end in a payment portal that the user couldn’t pass, and therefore lost interest in. After all, online payment in that era usually required a credit card or a check, and if the kid was smart enough to not go digging through their parent’s wallets – the banner ad failed at its goal.
People simply grew wise to the ways of the banner ad.
They Were Made Obsolete by Other Ads.
While highly personalized ads creep a lot of people out, they’re there for a reason: the user is more likely to click an ad that appeals to them, and those bright, obnoxiously flashy banner ads of the 2000s are just not it anymore, replaced by others that made the individual sites they were hosted on more money.
New Software Came Out Specifically to Stop Them from Appearing.
AdBlock is likely the most recognizable browser download designed to make using the internet less annoying. Aside from blocking pop-ups, videos set to auto-play, and other advertising shenanigans, one of the biggest casualties was, you guessed it – banner ads. A lot of people with ad-blocking software don’t even notice they’re gone, which should really be a testament to how difficult it is to make an ad that people both
- A) remember and
- B) don’t mind seeing.
Browsers even got in on the ad-blocking action! If the browser can keep people from downloading an ad blocker just for a few ads that they absolutely hate, then they don’t have to handle extra stress on the system from whatever third-party software the user is using to block ads. Essentially, some third-party software doesn’t play nice with the browser, but the user doesn’t always know that, and may report issues that are only being caused by the ad blocker. Inconvenient!
This means that browsers themselves may include the option to block banner ads, pop-ups, and auto-playing videos all by themselves. As of this article, Firefox will alert the user to auto-play content!
Websites Stopped Selling Adspace to them.
Except for especially seedy websites that don’t care, it’s bad for business when users stop coming to a site just to avoid the ads. Sure, the ad might get a glut of stolen data, misbegotten cookies, and maybe some adware downloaded before people realize what’s up.
But after that initial round of visitors getting a virus, figuring out from where and reporting it, or just giving up on the website – the ad gets kicked. Most blogs know that they live and die by their users clicking their ads. If
someone finds out that the ad isn’t harmless, they’re going to be less likely to click the next ad they see, even if it looks more trustworthy than the traditional flashy banner. Repeat until the website is flooded with angry emails and measurable revenue loss, and the ad is kicked.
It costs the host site money and time for the ad to be unethical, so eventually it just became easier to verify with the ad vendor that the ads weren’t terrible, and voila, natural selection favors harmless ads, and bland ads look more harmless than flashy ones.