TECH

The Inventor Of Pop-Up Ads Has Finally Apologised

15/08/2014 11:17 BST | Updated 15/08/2014 11:59 BST

The man who invented 'pop-up' ads has finally apologised.

Ethan Zuckerman, who now runs the Center for Civic Media at MIT, says he wrote the code while working at Tripod.com in the mid-1990s.

But no he didn't know what he would unleash.

In an essay for The Atlantic, he explains that he was just following orders.

"The business model that got us funded was advertising. The model that got us acquired was analyzing users’ personal homepages so we could better target ads to them," he writes.

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

The idea, Zuckerman says, was to be able to serve an ad without creating an implication that the publisher actually supported the company.

"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. Specifically, we came up with it when a major car company freaked out that they’d bought a banner ad on a page that celebrated anal sex. I wrote the code to launch the window and run an ad in it. I’m sorry. Our intentions were good."

The essay as a whole is a fantastic think-piece on advertising and the internet, and is well worth a read.

In case you're keeping track, the man who invented Comic Sans has also apologised. The person responsible for auto-play videos remains at large.